Falling in love with the Bay
For most, skydiving is a once in a lifetime experience. For Skydive Tauranga co-owner, Tristan Webb, it’s jump number 5,500-and-something … and he’s eager to share his passion.
“I get to tick my bucket list every day. I fell in love with the Bay of Plenty when I came here three years ago. It’s just spectacular for skydiving. It’s a view that keeps changing as the aircraft climbs.”
For customers, there’s plenty of time to enjoy it with a twenty-minute scenic flight up to the drop zone.
“We generally try to fly the customers over the Mount, then Matakana Island. From around 7,000 feet up, we see Motiti, Matakana and the smoke plumes of White Island. Depending on how clear the day is, Mount Ruapehu will come into view beyond the Rotorua lakes. You can see up to Coromandel, the Kaimais and right over to the west coast. Up around 9,000 feet, you can see Mount Taranaki and pretty much all the central North Island comes into view.”
And then it’s time to jump.
“It’s daunting, but by the time the aircraft door opens we’ve done so much preparation that our jumpers are ready to go for it.”
“I believe we’re the last drop zone in New Zealand that runs a smaller plane which means if you’re coming as a couple or two friends, you get the plane to yourself. You can sit next to each other to share the experience. It’s not crowded or frantic. We run it as an intimate, personal experience where you feel safe every step of the way.”
That’s important when part of the experience is plummeting 200 kilometres an hour back towards Tauranga.
“The reaction on the ground is usually ‘can we go up and do it again right now’ because the adrenaline is pumping. We’ve never had anyone say they didn’t enjoy it. There’s immediate relief and then an overwhelming sense of euphoria when they realise what they’ve just done. It’s pretty crazy to think that just four minutes ago you were sitting at 12,000 feet, dangling your feet out of an aircraft.”
Tristan and co-owner, Gui Calmelet, guide jumpers through the process to make it less intimidating. There are two briefings on the ground – one in the hanger and one out at the plane where customers are walked through the jump. In the plane, another briefing is given before the doors open.
“We find by that time; they’ve got a clear understanding of what’s going to happen. Gui and I do most of the jumps and we have a vested interest in making every experience awesome. We’ve had countless engagements in the plane and on the ground afterwards. For most people it’s a once in a lifetime experience. Some return to jump from a higher altitude to get a longer freefall experience. We can jump from 15,000 feet which gives an extra minute of freefall.”
In fact, Skydive Tauranga operates one of the highest skydives over the South Pacific Ocean.
“I get quite a buzz out of knowing that I’ve been a big part in someone’s bucket list experience. It’s something that they will always remember. Every so often, we catch a sunset and really, you can’t beat that view. If you’re going to skydive once in your life, Bay of Plenty is definitely the place to do it.”