FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Jump Into Adventure in Queenstown, New Zealand

by Richard Newton

Feb 16, 2021

© SPEEDFIGHTER17 | DREAMSTIME .COM

January/February 2021

From any angle, but especially from the air, the scenery of New Zealand’s South Island mesmerizes: snow-frosted mountains, deep-green valleys, startlingly blue lakes. In a daydream, in which anything is possible, you might be tempted to open the airplane door and jump directly into the view.

This is no daydream. The Cessna took off from a grass airstrip outside Queenstown and spiraled up to an altitude of 15,000 feet. Lake Wakatipu lies placid far below. Things are less placid within the plane. The drone of the engine is drowned out by the mounting beat of your heart.

At the assigned altitude, your jumpmaster guides you to the open door and you both sit — fixed together by a harness — with your legs hanging out. After what seems like a split-second and also an age, the jumpmaster keels you both out, into freefall.

You plummet for about a minute, reaching the terminal velocity of 120 mph. At full speed, you’re falling at 200 feet per second. Lying horizontally with your arms splayed, everything is a blur. Your goggles shudder against the rushing air. Then the jumpmaster pulls the cord and deploys the parachute. Everything slows down. The blur sharpens into focus. Now you’re hanging vertically. Beneath your dangling feet, the environs of Queenstown spread out like a map. Moments ago, you were above the mountains; now they’re rising up around you.

Skydiving is a relatively recent human activity. Backpack parachutes activated by a ripcord weren’t invented until 1919, and for several decades after they were the preserve of the military. It wasn’t until the 1970s that civilians began to fling themselves out of airplanes for fun, though it remained a dangerous activity, requiring intensive training.

The equipment continued to evolve, becoming simpler to use and more reliable. The invention of tandem skydiving in 1983 opened the sport to novices who could make a jump after no more than 15 minutes of preliminary instruction. Thus, a new tourist industry was born.

Not surprisingly, Queenstown became one of the first places to embrace commercial skydiving. This small city nestled between lake and mountains forged a reputation as the Adrenaline Capital of New Zealand. Just out of town, the Kawaru Gorge Suspension Bridge, 141 feet above the Kawaru River, became the world’s first permanent site for bungee jumping. On the same river and the adjoining Shotover River you can raft or kayak through whitewater rapids or speed perilously through the narrow twists and turns of deep gorges in a jet boat.

In winter ( June to August, this being the Southern Hemisphere), the focus moves up onto the high slopes, and Queenstown transforms into a ski resort. Skydiving continues then, when the mountains are at their snowy best, though remember the windchill at altitude is 40 degrees colder than the temperature at ground level.

For a preview of what to expect in a skydive, iFly Queenstown, downtown, is an indoor facility in which you can experience the sensation of freefall in a vertical wind tunnel. Each flight lasts about a minute, and you can book up to 10 flights in a session. From there, the inevitable next step up the adrenaline ladder is the real thing.

© SAIKIT LEUNG | DREAMSTIME.COM

Tandem skydives from up to 15,000 feet are offered by Skydive Southern Alps, operating out of Glenorchy Airfield 40 minutes from Queenstown, and by NZONE, based just south of town. Expect to pay around $275 for a jump, plus $200 for a professional video and photo package.

On arrival at NZONE you’re confronted by the slogan, “Embrace the Fear.” It’s one of the anomalies of Queenstown that a place so breathtakingly beautiful forged its reputation on pushing visitors to the brink of terror. As you go through the pre-flight briefing, you inevitably wonder why you’re putting yourself through all of this. Doubts and mounting fear plague you during the flight to altitude, and then, all of a sudden, exhilarating release.

The jump itself is over in less than five minutes. The adrenaline high will last into the evening. Queenstown at night buzzes with people similarly buoyant from having overcome various fears during the day. A visit here offers more than a vacation; it’s often a pivotal, life-changing experience.

INFO TO GO
Domestic and international flights arrive at Queenstown Airport, located five miles from downtown. The airport has daily connections to the main cities of New Zealand and also to Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane in Australia (especially in winter, as Queenstown is a popular skiing destination). Until 2011 operations were limited to daylight hours, but new runway lights and other navigation equipment now enable night flights.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

#globility

Insta Feed
Lifestyle
Sep 24, 2021

Fall Travel Trends from Vacasa

With the autumn in full spring, now is time to start planning your fall weekend getaway.  Whether a relaxing weekend on the lake, leaf-peeping or hiking, check out these fall travel trends from vacation rental management company Vacasa.

Register Today for the Most Important Gathering of Business Travel Professionals

The Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) Convention 2021 will be unlike any other convention before it, as we come together in person for the first time since the business travel industry drastically changed and look forward to rebuilding and reshaping the future. GBTA Convention 2021 will bring all of us together to learn from experts and each other, in-person at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 17–19. The safety of our attendees is our top priority. View health and safety protocols.

September 2021
Sep 23, 2021

Host a Fabled Business Event in Wonderful Copenhagen

I imagine that when writer Hans Christian Andersen mused, “Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale,” he was standing at the edge of Copenhagen’s historic Tivoli Gardens, one of his favorite haunts, enlivened by the swirl of human happiness that surrounded him: children laughing; carousels spinning; games of chance played for prizes; lovers holding hands; hungry people whispering over sweets, hot drinks, beer and towering, open-faced smørrebrød, Denmark’s quintessential sandwich. That fairy tale lives on today at the second-oldest amusement park in the world, a spectacle of folly architecture, bakeries, gardens, rides, restaurants, puppet shows and joy ... and which also happens to be one of the city’s most storied places to convene for business.

Canada
Sep 23, 2021

Reimagined Park Hyatt Toronto Officially Reopens Its Doors

The restored Park Hyatt Toronto reopened its doors, bringing luxury, sophistication and glamour alongside a nod to the hotel’s Canadian heritage. Alessandro Munge of Studio Munge collaborated on the hotel’s refresh, drawing inspiration from Canada’s seasons and natural landscapes.

Experiencing GBTA Convention 2021
Safely and Responsibly

GBTA’s Convention 2021 will bring the business travel industry together for the first time in a long time. Once again, you’ll learn and connect with experts and each other, along with discussions with leading thinkers, entrepreneurs and change makers addressing the issues that matter most.

eFlyer Reviews
Sep 22, 2021

Irwin’s Review

I recently dined at Irwin’s in Philadelphia. The restaurant is located on the rooftop of the Bok Building, a former school turned collective of small businesses, non-profits, artist workshops, a bar and restaurant. I previously visited Bok for the bar and yoga classes, and I was excited to experience the restaurant.

eFlyer Lead
Sep 22, 2021

Cathay Pacific to Use Sustainable Fuel for 10 Percent of Total Consumption by 2030

Cathay Pacific reaffirms its commitment to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 with a pledge to use Sustainable Aviation Fuel for 10 percent of its total fuel consumption by 2030. The airline has made pioneering efforts in supporting SAF development for more than 10 years.

Greece: Destination Luxury

Since its prestige for attracting the world elite grew in the 1960s, Greece remains the go-to destination for glittering holidays. Each step of the journey is enrobed in luxury, from culinary traditions with the highest standard of execution and name-brand, high-end shopping to first-rate wellness locales and elite accommodations, like 5-star hotels, private villas and yachts.

Daily
Sep 22, 2021

La Concha Resort Puerto Rico Review

Arriving early afternoon in Puerto Rico, we jumped in an Uber and took a short, 15-minute drive from the airport to La Concha.  As it was Tuesday, the streets were not too busy and the hotel lobby was calm. During the weekend, the scene likely would have been more bustling. We were greeted by a staff member who requested proof of vaccination and government-issued ID, and were given a wristband to indicate we were fully vaccinated. All guests are required to be vaccinated and wear masks at all times while moving around the hotel. Hand sanitizer stations were placed around the lobby, in elevators and in each common area.