The day I went paragliding was actually intended for something more grandiose.
(Wow, #realworldprobs, am I right?)
I was actually supposed to fly to Milford Sound that day. But alas, inclement weather happens, and our flight was cancelled twice. Just not meant to be.
Along with Alanna, we decided to cram as many activities into the day to make up for this.
We ended up doing the following:
- Hiking and exploring Queenstown in the morning
- Shotover Jets
- Scenic helicopter flight over The Remarkables (mountain range)
- Sunset paragliding
Everything was literally done in a back-to-back order, so much to the point that we didn’t eat all day. We did, however, indulge in a large steak meal after our paragliding.
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. Another girl next to me pulled 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.
The trees, tops of buildings, cars (specks), and the beautiful reflective lakes- everything was simply breathtaking. Having tasted the feeling once, I’m dying to paraglide in various locations now. [2020 edit: I also paraglided in Interlaken, Switzerland, and it was incredible]
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 all those activities weren’t enough in one day, most of the tour group ended up going out later that night.
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.