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(Rewinding to April) Allow me to vent for a bit while I write this piece. The day I went paragliding was actually intended for something more grandiose: it was the day that I, along with four others, was supposed to fly to Milford Sound (quite possibly known as the Eighth Wonder of the World).
But alas, our flight was cancelled not once but TWICE due to terrible weather conditions. After calling multiple times and it seemed as if there was no hope in waiting around for the last flight, I decided along with another girl on tour to live it up and cram as MANY other activities in that remainder of the day that we could. We weren’t about to have our trip spoiled by weather (even though I was fuming about Mother Nature that day).
My schedule for the day ended up looking like this:
(1) Hiking and exploring Queenstown in the morning
(2) Shotover Jets
(3) Scenic helicopter flight over The Remarkables (mountain range)
(4) Sunset paraglide
Everything was literally done in a back-to-back order, so much to the point that we didn’t eat all day except for after our paragliding (we indulged in the BEST steak meal ever…. and it was well-deserved).
Onto business – paragliding itself with G Force Paragliding was absolutely incredible. The process to take flight proved to be more cumbersome than thought, since we were spoiled with instant transport to and from previous activities in mere minutes. With this, we had to take the Skyline Gondola (the baby version of all gondolas I’ve been in… how cute) up and then hike uphill for far too long.
No one warned us that we had to be in physically fit condition in order to hike up these monstrous hills. The girl I was with ended up pulling out her inhaler just in case, and all joking aside, I seriously felt short of breath midway through as well. I hike a lot, but I definitely hate hiking uphill – and these hills were atrociously steep. Being the spoiled American I am, I half-wished that the gondola dropped us off at the tip-top where paragliders took off from in the first place.
Once we got assembled with our large parachutes (and far too many ropes/chords), it was all worth it. Again, no countdown or warning was really given – all of a sudden, my feet were no longer on the grass and we were flying in the air.
Since we took flight right before sunset, we had a stunning view of central Queenstown along with the beautiful Lake Wakatipu. I felt infinite. And then we did some flips and extremely speedy spins – oh, my head. It was still crazy amazing, though.
Seeing all the trees, tops of buildings, cars (specks), and the beautiful reflective lakes was simply breathtaking. Having tasted the feeling once, I’m dying to paraglide in various locations – specifically, Hawaii, Australia, and just about any other area with beautiful paradise views.
I know I said I got the chance to be a bird when I leapt off a bungee platform, but paragliding is probably the closest to feeling like a bird. It was the most relaxing activity on my South Island trip, and I absolutely loved it.
When we finished, our guides recommended that we watch the “Jimmy Jumble” above the lakefront. Apparently this was a weekly show with paragliding instructors who did all sorts of cool tricks and stunts in the air. It was quality entertainment while we ate dinner and sat on the deck, admiring at least 85 paragliders flipping, twirling, and skimming the water as they made their grandiose landings.
And as if three activities weren’t enough in one day, most of the tour group ended up going out later that night – in a bout to enjoy Queenstown nightlife. It was a rare night in which I tagged along, but the Below Zero ice bar (with free admission for us) was pretty worthwhile. With my appreciation for ice, cold weather, and anything seal-y, I loved the tiny “ice castle” and ordered a “Silly Seal” mocktail to end the night.