Updated: 16/12/20 | December 16th, 2020
Nothing quite screams ‘travel bucket list item’ like Skydiving in New Zealand.
While the thrill of jumping out of a moving plane at 15,000 feet sounds utterly exhilarating to some, the mere thought of it can induce nausea in tamer travellers, who simply can’t get their heads around why someone would put themselves through such a terrifying ordeal.
There’s no doubt for me where I stand on this sort of thing. My love for adventure travel galvanises me to have experiences just like this, so I found the idea of skydiving for the first time incredibly seductive.
After a lot of online research, I decided to go with the company Skydive Wanaka.
It wasn’t an easy decision, but I believe it was the right one. We were simply spoiled for choice in this famously outdoorsy country, so I’ve laid out all of your best skydiving in New Zealand options below, along with my reasons for choosing to skydive in Wanaka, along with my own personal experience of the eagerly anticipated crazy jump.
When it comes to answering your own made up dilemma of what is the ‘best’ skydiving in New Zealand, you have to ask why it may be the ‘best’ for you before you commit.
If your angle is “I want a lovely view,” then I’ve got news for you; pretty much everywhere in New Zealand comes with a lovely view. This country is nature’s eye candy, with an abundance of clear waters, handsome hills, majestic mountains and luscious landscapes at your disposal, so a scenic skydive you shall definitely have!
With that being said, beauty is the eye of the beholder, so here is a rundown of the places that are considered the very best destinations for skydiving in New Zealand, I’ll highlight why I chose Skydive Wanaka at the end.
- Lake Taupo
- Bay of Islands
- Abel Tasman
- Fox Glacier
- Wanaka (Representing!)
Like myself if you read up on each destination in the above list, you will learn quickly that every one of them comes with the promise of stunning scenery to compliment your parachute jump. You have to decide for yourself whether you have a slight preference for looking down on a glacier, mountain, national park, or a set of pretty islands.
I wasn’t able to do that, so safe in the knowledge that there is no such thing as an ugly jump in New Zealand I went for logistics.
As we were travelling via the west coast, we limited it down a bit then chose Skydive Wanaka based upon the fact it was the direction that we were heading in our trusty motorhome and they had fantastic reviews.
Along with the area’s allure of wine tours, hiking trails and Lake Wanaka itself looked beyond gorgeous, we were ready to commit to Wanaka.
After a few weeks of experiencing the fickle kiwi weather, we reserved a spot online with these guys and within a few days we received an email with a good weather window and a request that we show up on the day with closed-toes footwear.
It was happening, we were going to officially skydive in New Zealand in a matter of days!
For me, the idea of jumping out of a plane and not dying was always very appealing. This is often confused with people constantly telling me before doing anything adventurous; “you have a death-wish, Anthony!”
This is completely false, I don’t want to die and I’m quite the fan of living, thanks. But it’s a fair question about this activity, this is not exactly knitting and it does come with risks, so how dangerous is skydiving exactly?
The answer to this question differs based upon countries, but they don’t differ too much. It’s best to look at data from a large country that loves a bit of stats, where skydiving is popular, and is also a stickler for health and safety rules.
Step forward: USA.
According to the United States Parachute Association, in 2019 there was only 1 fatality in every 220,301 jumps and that’s for jumping solo. Tandem jumps (a pro skydiver strapped to your back) had even better odds of showing the middle finger to the Grim Reaper; Just the 1 fatality in every 500,000 jumps.
If you’re interested in how skydiving fares amongst other life choices, here is a funny and slightly morbid page called ‘your chances of dying’ based on possible activities. I was not surprised to see scuba diving pencilled in as more dangerous than skydiving, seeing so I have had a previous near-death scrape with the sport myself.
Steady on there, maaate. You can’t just rock up without experience and jump out of a plane in New Zealand.
From what I know from the people I’ve met over the years, if you can’t prove that you have ample solo diving experience, you have to take a 9-hour course to prove your capabilities and then you can jump on the big day when you’re ready. I had no desire to do this for my first jump, but if you do then a massive hat tip to you for your unquestionable chutzpah.
New Zealand is a country made up of two islands with a couple of smaller islands offshore and Wanaka is located in the southern end of the south island.
Driving: I saw the whole of the south island via a rented motorhome (highly recommended if you have the budget) and driving into Wanaka means you will be blessed with kiwi icons listed above in the best places to skydive in New Zealand.
You will be able to rent cars from all hub airports Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin. Remember to drive on the left, just like all the best countries do. 😛
Bus from Queentown: The Queenstown to Wanaka coach departs 11.30am & 4.40pm via the company ‘Ritchies,’ taking 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Bus from Dunedin: There is no direct bus from Dunedin to Wanaka, but you can grab a 3-hour bus to Cromwell, get off there and then take a 40 minutes bus to Wanaka.
Bus from Christchurch: Absolute mission! You’d need to take 3-4 busses, maybe it’s doable if you have a methodical itinerary on the way to Wanaka via Christchurch on a bus. Depends entirely on your time limit, personally I think there is just too much to see and do on the way to rush it but that’s your call.
Skydive Wanaka: My Experience
I can’t and won’t try to make a health and safety briefing sound sexy or even vaguely interesting. We’ve all been there and if you’re anything like me, you sit through them impatiently waiting and itching to get to the action.
So when that was done and I was given the green light to wear my contact lenses (you wear goggles anyway, so you may as well get to see the beautiful view on your way down), off we went to put on our orange jumpsuits where we would meet our tandem buddies.
We looked like the worst ISIS boyband tribute act ever.
The tagline of Skydive Wanaka is; ‘strap yourself to a beautiful stranger’ and mine was a jovial Norweigan lad who turned out to be a multiple-time tactical skydiver champion.
Safe pair of hands for sure.
Speaking of hands, I was given a permanent black marker to write a message on them. I chose website branding for the palm of my hands and a message for my Mam on the back.
Something for you to consider for your skydive; a special note for a loved one, or a funny inside joke for your friends.
Joining me on my virginity dive was one of my best mates Johnny from Onestep4ward. It was his second skydive and his perpetual state of dread on the plane transcended my excitement to nervousness, as I know we have similar levels of comfort for this sort of thing…
…until that plane door opened roughly 5 minutes later.
It was game time and I gave my trust to a man who I’d literally just met to throw us out of a moving plane. I can’t even remember getting in the plane – all I remember is the off-the-scale adrenaline rush as I was launched out of it.
The absolute euphoria danced around my veins thanks to my 60-seconds freefall! Skydiving is not an anti-climax, or overrated – it’s the ultimate rush and it simply must be experienced if you’re that way inclined.
As I looked down upon aforementioned stunning landmarks of Lake Wanaka and Mount Cook showing off their beauty below me, the hysteria got the better of me as I clumsily showed my hand messages to the skilful flying cameramen.
Parachuting down to the ground for roughly 8 minutes, I knew I had chosen the perfect location and company for myself to tick off the top item of my own travel bucket list.
(Edit: It seems I have somehow misplaced my video footage. Sorry, folks! No one is sadder about this than myself).
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Further Wanaka Travel Resources
Where To Stay in Wanaka
I lived in a motorhome for all of my New Zealand travel! I usually use Booking.com but if I am wanting to live in a local apartment for a period of time I find one on Airbnb. If you don’t have an account already, sign up to Airbnb using this link for a $38USD/£34 credit towards your first trip.
Best Travel Insurance
Finding the right travel insurance can be one of the most stressful things about the planning process. After 9 years on the road (and a handful of bad experiences) I’m well-versed on this topic and I have been raving about SafetyWing ever since I switched over.
You can sign up to a monthly contract, they’re cheap as chips – starting at $9USD per week and they cater for both world travellers and digital nomads. You can read my full review blog post here, or you can get a hassle-free quote here.
New Zealand Travel Guide
Coming soon! But for now check out my Kaikoura Whale Watching article if you’re interested.
Want to Start a Blog?
Starting this blog was honestly the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. When used correctly and taken seriously, it’s a powerful tool with the ability to upgrade the way you live and mine is living proof of that. Don’t listen to anyone (including the voice in your head) telling you that it’s too late as it’s a “saturated market.” Plenty of the cake to go around, come get a slice.
Maybe that doesn’t appeal to you and you just want an up-to-date travel journal, or a place to showcase your interests/talents. Cool! If you’re interested in getting started then check out my guide How To Start A Blog Before You’ve Even Finished Your Cup Of Tea!
Want to Save Money and Travel Better?
Feel free to check out my travel resources page, which talks in detail about the best companies to use around the world for less stress and more savings.