I think my sister might have been trying to punish me for flying to the Galapagos on her previous birthday and failing to send her a gift. This year for my birthday, she booked us both in for both the Auckland Harbour Bridge bungy AND the Auckland SkyJump. The Auckland SkyJump is a controlled base jump from the tallest building in New Zealand – Auckland’s Sky Tower.
Although they both involve bricking it on the edge of a narrow platform way above the ground, the two are quite different experiences. The bungy is 42 m high, but potentially scarier if you’re not totally comfortable with freefalling headfirst and dangling by your feet. Having said that, the platform on the Sky Tower is 192 m high and you’re greeted with views of the city below. Unlike the bungy, there would be no chance of surviving an equipment malfunction on this one.
Thankfully, New Zealand is a country with safety standards as high as its adrenaline levels, so you needn’t stress out wondering if the harness is secure or the cords will hold your weight…easier said than done, right?!
AUCKLAND SKYJUMP PREPARATION
When you arrive at the Sky Tower base (down the stairs from the main hotel reception), you will be asked to sign the usual documents before they put you in an attractive blue and yellow jumpsuit and attach a harness. At this point you will be asked to remove all jewellery and any other items that have even the slightest chance of escaping your person and landing on a spectator or passer by.
They even told me to take off the five friendship bracelets that have been firmly attached to my wrist since the beginning of my South America trip last year. When I explained that untying roughly 40 knots may take the best part of an hour and cutting them off could have deleterious consequences for some tight friendships if the superstition Gods are to be believed, he opted for a masking tape bandage instead.
Next up is the weigh in. If you plan on taking part in any New Zealand activities that involve falling, you will need to get used to this. It’s even a requirement for zorbing! I was less than pleased to see that I’d put on 4 kg since the previous morning, until my sister pointed out that we hadn’t had our harnesses on the last time.
The SkyJump team will check the weather conditions before your jump. If the wind is too strong, they won’t let you go.
We chose possibly the worst conditions that still permitted us to do it – torrential rain and winds that knocked you sideways. Guess who was the first human guinea pig of the day?
They reassured me there was nothing to worry about since they’d just chucked a sandbag down and it had made it safely to the base platform without incident…–
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE AUCKLAND SKYJUMP
The Auckland SkyJump is basically a controlled base jump. You’re attached to a harness above your back, which allows you to fall for 11 seconds, but slows you down towards the bottom, so you can land on your feet.
Before I did mine, I made the usual mistake of watching videos on YouTube. These generally involved fear-stricken individuals clinging to a couple of thin metal bars either side of a platform taking several minutes to build up the courage to let go.
When I found myself in that position, the wire above my head was pulling me away from the platform and I barely had the strength to battle the gale-force winds for long enough to wait for the instructor to say ‘Go’!
This is how it all went down:
AUCKLAND SKYJUMP TIPS
• If you’re nervous, go first. There’s nothing worse than watching others get it out of the way and wishing you were the one standing at the bottom buzzing with adrenaline and a huge sense of relief. I also heard that the sound of the wire unwinding as someone falls can be a cause of concern for some!
• They attach a GoPro camera to your wrist and you will have the option of buying the video and/or a couple of photos of you on the ledge. They used to take a third photo of you dangling for a few seconds before they released the wire, but apparently no one dared to look up at the camera so they stopped bothering! As you fall, try to smile at the camera and maybe even get a couple of close up shots of your best daredevil expression and the view below.
• You can screen grab from your video to get some classic photos of you in action.
• Once you’ve done it once, you can have discounted jumps for life! Perhaps you’d like to try more extreme/dryer weather, or maybe you have friends you’d like to introduce to it or feel like impressing someone on a first date? The opportunities are endless.
• Once you’ve recovered, you have free access to go back up the Sky Tower and look around the viewing decks at your own leisure. I’d recommend picking up a warm drink in the café and sitting by the window with a clear view of the next few insane jumpers whizzing by!
• When you’re standing on the edge, don’t look down!
GETTING TO AUCKLAND
Many people arrive in New Zealand via Auckland’s international airport. If you’re already in the country, Intercity Buses provide services to and from the following popular destinations (rough times in brackets): Paihia (4 hours); Hamilton (2 hours); Rotorua (4 hours); Taupo (5 hours); and Wellington (11 hours). They also arrange day trips and activities, including the Auckland SkyJump. Click below for more information.