New Zealand is a destination that is full of adventure. With some of this world’s wildest landscapes, you don’t have to venture very far to find the adventure you are looking for. New Zealand has some of this world’s prettiest beaches, most magnificent mountains, and some of the world’s most beautiful lakes. Each year, people flock to New Zealand to not only take in these beautiful landscapes but to seek adventures in them.
There aren’t many other places in this world where you can find amazing multi-day hikes, kayaking on lakes with crystal clear glacier water, some of the world’s tallest bungee jumps, jet boat rides up rapid-strewn rivers, helicopter hiking on some of the world’s biggest glaciers, and some of this world’s best skydiving locations.
In this guide, I am going to draw on my personal experience to answer many of the questions that people have about skydiving in New Zealand. I will outline all of the places where you can find skydiving tour operators in New Zealand, what differentiates each of these locations, what you can expect from the experience, and what you need to know before going skydiving in New Zealand.
What You Need to Know
Going skydiving was one of the most amazing adventures that I have had while traveling. It was such an exciting and exhilarating experience that I will remember it for the rest of my life. If you are thinking about skydiving while in New Zealand, you probably have some questions about the experience. Below are my answers to some of the more common questions about skydiving in New Zealand.
Why Skydive in New Zealand?
When I visited New Zealand, I didn’t initially have a plan to go skydiving. As an avid travel adventurer, I have always wanted to go skydiving during my travels, but I didn’t think I would have the time while we were in New Zealand. We had a very packed schedule and I didn’t think we would have time to fit skydiving in.
However, as I talked to fellow travelers we met while on our trip, I kept hearing that New Zealand is the best place in the world to go skydiving. It is one of the safest places in the world to jump and the beauty of the scenery in New Zealand is hard to match anywhere. That’s why skydiving is an adventure that every traveler should consider when visiting New Zealand.
How Safe is Skydiving in New Zealand?
Not only is skydiving in New Zealand extremely beautiful, but it is also very safe. Between the numerous sites in New Zealand that offer skydiving, they perform tens of thousands of jumps each year. And since 1997, there have been very few accidents involved with skydiving in New Zealand. They take safety very seriously in New Zealand and it shows in the safety procedures they have in place.
This includes a maximum weight limit for participants, canceling dives in unsafe weather conditions, and regular equipment checks. When you go skydiving, you do so with a trained professional on a tandem dive, so you are taken care of the minute you enter the plane until the minute you land.
What Different Skydiving Altitudes Are Available?
There are numerous places where you can go skydiving in New Zealand, and each location offers a different range of heights from which you can go skydiving. The biggest factor you need to consider when determining which height you want to jump from is the amount of free-fall time that you will get at each height.
This may seem like just something that an adrenaline junkie would be concerned with, but really, it is something that should be an important factor for everyone trying skydiving. If you are diving for your first time, you want to be able to remember the experience of free-falling thru the air.
However, when you jump for the first time, typically your mind spends the first 10-15 seconds trying to reconcile the fact that you are falling at terminal velocity thru the air. If you are only free-falling for 10-15 seconds on your jump, then you probably won’t even remember the experience. In case you are curious, below is a table that lists all the diving heights offered by tour operators in New Zealand and the associated amount of free-fall time you can expect from that height.
|Skydive Height||Free-fall Time|
|6,000 Feet||15 Seconds|
|9,000 Feet||25 Seconds|
|10,000 Feet||30 Seconds|
|12,000 Feet||45 Seconds|
|13,000 Feet||45 Seconds|
|15,000 Feet||60 Seconds|
|16,000 Feet||60 Seconds|
|16,500 Feet||60 Seconds|
|18,500 Feet||75 Seconds|
|20,000 Feet||85 Seconds|
What is the Typical Cost for Skydiving in New Zealand?
The cost of skydiving in New Zealand is going to depend on a number of different factors. The first factor is the location. If you plan on going skydiving in a busier location such as Queenstown, which is considered the “Adventure Capital of the World”, then you are going to pay a bit more to go skydiving.
Another factor is the height you plan on jumping from. If you want to experience more free-fall time, then you are going to have to jump from a higher height. However, the higher the height the higher the cost of the jump. This makes sense because the plane needs to expend more fuel taking you higher to jump and you may even need supplemental oxygen on the flight up to the higher heights.
The third factor that affects the cost of your skydive will be the photo and\or video package that you choose. For instance, most skydiving operators offer a GoPro package that includes either photo, video, or both photos and a video of your jump. Some tour operators even offer a package that includes having another skydiver jump with you to film your tandem skydive. This option is often referred to as having a “personal flyer”.
The photo and video package that you choose can also influence the price you pay to skydive. I have included a chart below that outlines the prices you will pay to jump at the different heights that each skydiving operator in New Zeland offers. The chart also includes whether the operator offers GoPro and\or Personal Flyer video options.
How Long Does it Typically Take?
A skydiving excursion in New Zealand typically takes about four hours. When you sign up for a time to go skydiving, they will typically divide all of the people who signed up for your time slot into multiple flights. If you are on the first flight, you could be finished with your excursion in just a few hours. If you are on the last flight, it may take about four hours for your excursion to be completed.
On each flight, there will be people who are jumping from different heights. For instance, some of the skydivers will be jumping from 9,000 feet, some from 12,000 feet, and some from 15,000 feet. The people jumping from 9,000 feet will be placed in the front of the plane and the people jumping from 15,000 feet will be placed in the back of the plane. As the plane climbs and reaches 9,000 feet, the people in the front of the plane will jump, then the people in the middle who are jumping at 12,000 feet will jump when the plane reaches 12,000 feet, and finally, the people in the back will jump at 15,000 feet.
Can I Bring an Action Camera With Me?
Because of safety concerns, no skydiving operator in New Zealand will allow you to bring your own GoPro or recording device with you on your jump. If you would like to get photos and\or video of your skydive, you will have to purchase one of the tour operator’s photos and\or video packages.
Where Skydiving is Offered in New Zealand
There are multiple locations throughout New Zealand that have skydiving tour operators. Each operator offers a unique variety of available dive heights, multimedia packages, and other perks. If you are going to be visiting New Zealand and would like to explore your options for going skydiving while there, I have included a summary for you to review below.
Wanaka – South Island
The first location on my list is the location where I did my skydive while in New Zealand. It was absolutely amazing! Wanaka is one of the most beautiful spots on New Zealand’s South Island. With beautiful lakes Wanaka and Hawea, as well as Mount Cook and Mount Aspiring National Parks scenery, who wouldn’t want to skydive in Wanaka. They offer jumps from 9,000, 12,000, and 15,000 feet with a variety of different photo and video packages to choose from.
Queenstown – South Island
Widely considered the “adventure capital of the world”, what better place to go skydiving. Queenstown is surrounded by gorgeous mountains and Lake Wakatipu is one of the most picturesque lakes in New Zealand. They offer jumps from 9,000, 12,000, and 15,000 feet with a variety of different photo and video packages to choose from.
Franz Josef Glacier – South Island
In addition to being one of the most beautiful areas in New Zealand, the Franz Josef area has an additional leg up on some of the other locations on this list. Franz Josef has a skydiving operator that offers jumps from higher than most other skydiving operations in New Zealand. They offer jumps from 13,000, 16,500, and 20,000 feet, which means more free-fall time for you! They also offer a variety of photo and video packages for you to choose from to document your adventure.
Glenorchy – South Island
If you are a fan of the Lord of the Rings movies, then you will be a big fan of the Glenorchy area, which is where many of the amazing mountain scenes in the movies were shot. Just imagine how epic it would be to skydive in this iconic location. They offer jumps from 9,000, 12,000, and 15,000 feet with a variety of different photo and video packages to choose from.
Fox Glacier – South Island
Like with Josef Glacier, when you skydive at Fox Glacier, you are skydiving around some of the biggest mountains in New Zealand. Also like at Franz Josef, you are able to dive from much higher heights than most other locations in New Zealand. In Fox Glacier, they offer jumps from 13,000, 16,500, and 20,000 feet, which means more free-fall time for you! They also offer a variety of photo and video packages for you to choose from to document your adventure.
Mount Cook – South Island
If jumping out of a plane and having a view of the tallest mountain in New Zealand intrigues you, then you will love skydiving near Mount Cook National Park. While the jump heights offered aren’t as high as some of the other locations in New Zealand, it is hard to pass up this view. They offer jumps from 9,000, 13,000, and 15,000 feet with a variety of different photo and video packages to choose from.
Abel Tasman – South Island
Abel Tasman is one of the most beautiful national parks in New Zealand. With golden beaches, beautiful rainforest, and deep blue waters, Abel Tasman is a fantastically scenic place to go skydiving. They offer jumps from 9,000, 13,000, and 16,500 feet with a variety of different photo and video packages to choose from.
Christchurch – South Island
Christchurch is the largest city on New Zealand’s South Island and skydiving in Christchurch and seeing this beautiful city as you descend to Earth is an amazing sight to behold. The tour operator in Christchurch doesn’t offer jumps as high as most of the other skydiving operators in New Zealand, but they do offer a decent range of jump altitudes. You can choose between jumps from 6,000, 9,000, and 12,000-feet. They also offer a variety of photo and video packages.
Bay of Islands – North Island
If you are looking for a little different scenery when you dive, then you absolutely cannot go wrong with a dive in the Bay of Islands. Here you will get to see the beautiful oceans and all of the amazing islands scattered about the ocean in the Bay of Islands area. At the Bay of Islands, you can also jump from New Zealand’s maximum of 20,000 feet, just like you can in Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. However, unlike at the glaciers, you will get to enjoy New Zealand’s only beach skydive landing. Bay of Islands offers jumps from 9,000, 12,000, and 16,500, and 20,000 feet with a variety of different photo and video packages to choose from.
Taupo – North Island
When picking a scenic spot in New Zealand to go skydiving, you can’t overlook skydiving near New Zealand’s largest lake. That is what makes skydiving in Taupo so special. Not to mention, while they don’t offer a 20,000-foot jump, they do offer an 18,500-foot jump, which gives you almost as much free-fall time. In addition to the 18,500-foot jump, they also offer jumps from 12,000 and 15,000 feet, with a variety of photo and video packages.
Auckland – North Island
The skydive operator in New Zealand’s largest city also offers the highest jump available on New Zealand’s North Island. If you are visiting Auckland, there is no better way to put a stamp on your visit than to jump from a plane and get a bird’s eye view of this gorgeous city. They offer jumps from 9,000, 13,000, 16,000, and 20,000 feet with a variety of different photo and video packages to choose from.
Tauranga – North Island
If you have any doubts that skydiving in Tauranga is every bit as scenic as some of the other locations on this list, imagine looking out of the plane and seeing Mt Ruapehu, the Bay of Plenty, East Cape and the Coromandel Peninsula out the window as you climb up to jumping altitude. Then, enjoying their beauty as you descend back to Earth. If that doesn’t make you excited to jump out of a plane, nothing will. At the Tauranga site they have a limited number of jump heights, with 10,000 and 12,000 being the only jump altitudes available, but they do offer a variety of photo and video packages.
What the Skydiving Experience Is Like
Since going skydiving in New Zealand I have been asked what the experience was like by quite a few people. Beyond just telling you it was one of the most amazing and exhilarating experiences of my life, I am going to try and give you a little bit more detail about what I felt and what you can expect to feel when you go.
I don’t have a fear of heights, so if you do then you may be a little more nervous about skydiving leading up to your jump than I was. To be honest, I was more worried about driving on the other side of the road in New Zealand than I was about jumping out of a plane the few days before my skydiving adventure.
That said, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel some butterflies as our plane started to ascend and I could see the landscape passing by me from the windows of the prop airplane we were in. All said, it probably took about 10 minutes of ascending before they opened the door to the plane and the people who were jumping from 9,000 feet started to jump out of the plane.
Before we boarded the plane, and again as we were ascending, my guide made sure to check my harness to make sure it was fastened correctly and tight. On our way up to 15,000 feet, he also secured my harness to his and I could feel him pulling hard to make sure that we were connected securely.
When we reached a certain height where the oxygen levels were low, he also put an oxygen mask on me so that I had a little bit easier time breathing. To be honest, I didn’t really feel the lack of oxygen all that much, but I am guessing that is because he was so diligent about putting the mask on before I did feel the effects.
After the people who were jumping from 12,000 feet departed the plane, my jump instructor removed my oxygen mask and moved us up to the front of the plane. When we got the signal that we were at 15,000 feet and the airplane door was opened again, he moved us to the doorway and then told me to lean my head back and prepare to get into the jump position when I felt us leave the plane.
Immediately upon feeling us leave the plane there was a brief “oh crap” moment where the fact that I just jumped out of a perfectly good airplane ran through my mind. That didn’t last more than 5-10 seconds and after my jump instructor deployed the small stabilization parachute and tapped me on the shoulder, I put my arms out and started to enjoy the free-fall.
Because we had about 60 seconds of free-fall from 15,000-feet, I remember the feeling of free-falling quite vividly. It was an absolutely surreal experience. Once you get over the fear and start to enjoy the experience, it is such a liberating and beautiful experience. Then all of a sudden our parachute was deployed, there was a firm yank as our decent rapidly slowed down, and we started our peaceful drift back to Earth.
If you would like to see what the experience was like for yourself, I have included the video from my jump below for you to watch.
Skydiving in Wanaka, New Zealand was one of the most amazing adventures I have had while traveling. I was lucky enough to get some great pictures from my guide company of my jump. I have shared them for you to see below.
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