Over Queen's birthday, Auckland had a Best of the British exhibition (which was kind of limited, honestly), but I got to see some sweet cars (Aston Martin, anyone?). The walk around the city was nice too. I also got to play a game of chess on one of those big chess boards. At night, I walked to Ponsonby, to a friend of a friend's house, and climbed on their roof. I had an absolutely stunning view of the city, the sky was super clear (but no stars due to the light pollution, the South Island was the exact opposite).
The last week of classes was pretty uneventful; with only one actual lecture out of three hours of class, the week was just preparation for final exams. Tuesday night was really special because the Arcadia group got back together for a farewell dinner. Gifts were exchanged, photos were admired, and good times were recalled. My friend Dan made everyone tear up with personal messages for each person in the group. The meal had to be one of my favorite moments of the trip.
Then came Thursday, where Dan and I drove up north to Paihia to skydive! After countless re-bookings due to bad weather, it was awesome to have amazing weather this late in the year, the Bay of Islands was beautiful. We had some really awesome burritos.
Now back to the skydive. We got to the airport, and it turned out to be a beautiful day. We got suited up and prepped for takeoff, but then there was a problem with one of the planes. Not sure what it was, but I'm thankful for being on the other plane. As we ascended to 17,000 feet, I had a beautiful view of the area, and plenty of time to rethink my decision. But there wasn't a nervous bone in my body, I was too excited to be scared! Besides, I was strapped to a guy (Andy) who had his own livelihood to keep in mind, so I felt perfectly safe.
Dan went first, at 13,000 feet. After watching him inch to the edge of the plane (and out in to open air), I could hardly contain my excitement. In a flash he was just, gone. Couldn't even see him out the window. 8 minutes later and I had hit my desired altitude. As I was hanging outside of the door, waiting for Andy to let us go, I thought about how awesome it was to be able to do this stuff between classes this semester. Then I stopped being sentimental as we plummeted towards the Earth. After 6 or 7 flips, we were stabilized, and I finally got a good look around. Again I caught myself admiring the bay. It was sick passing within feet of some thin, wispy clouds too. If you're wondering what that's like, it's just fog. Little colder though.
After putting up some messages to the camera, and yelling a lot, my 75 second free fall was over, and the parachute was pulled. I wish I could've seen that happen, it felt too gentle to have happened so quickly. At this point, we were relatively low to the ground, so I really got a good view of the ocean to the east, and the classic Kiwi farms to the west. All of a sudden Andy gave me the controls, and I was piloting us across the pretty landscape. You have to pull really hard to get the thing to turn, but not too hard or you'll get a crazy corkscrew (doesn't feel too good after having the wind knocked out of you for a minute and a half). Then we got really close to the airport and Andy took over again, landing us smoothly in the grass nearby.
I gave like 10 people high-fives when I landed. I also couldn't walk, had to run. But the most profound effect was that I wanted to go again, immediately. I've decided that I need to get a solo license, because jumping out of planes is fun.
Back in Auckland, I had my last class of the semester, and all of a sudden it was time for the All Blacks rugby test match against France! The All Blacks are New Zealand's pride and joy, right next to pineapple lumps and meat pies. The city was packed with people all heading to Eden Park for the sold out event.
After seeing quite a few rugby games in person and on tv, I have to say this particular outing was very uneventful. The All Blacks won, as expected, but the score was low and there weren't any epic trys like those I've seen with the Auckland Blues. The atmosphere made up for the game, however, and it was an awesome night.
I'm going to try to get my 2nd trip to the South Island up as soon as possible. There's going to be a ton of pictures in that one, so get excited.
My favorite make: Aston Martin
I kinda want to learn about automobile photography after taking this
Very well-kept Mini engine
My awesome Arcadia friends and family! (Lyssa Goodrich)
Standing behind the propeller is mad windy
The Bay of Islands was gorgeous that day
Needed oxygen masks when we got to 3 miles up
Annnnd he's gone.
The plane in the background makes this the best picture ever
Nah, my eyes aren't closed, just squinting. Life's too short to close your eyes
I yelled at that GoPro so much. It wasn't taking video.
Me steering the 'chute into a death spiral
Hanging around over the farmland
Giants walking along the road
Didn't have any pictures of me during the game, so here's the All Blacks doing the Ka Mate Haka before the game!