On 9 December 2019 White Island / Whakaari erupted and tragically took the lives of 21 people and seriously injured many others. (Consequently there are currently no tours to White Island).
This post was written a year before the eruption and is now dedicated to the helicopter pilots who made their own decisions to fly to Whakaari to look for survivors. The actions of the pilots saved lives while putting their own at risk.
White Island / Whakaari is an active marine volcano, 48km north of Whakatane. Get there two ways – by helicopter as we did with Kahu NZ… Read the rest
Mike’s keen to learn to fly a plane, but lessons are expensive, so instead I bought him a voucher to go gliding with the fine folks at Taupo Gliding Club. It costs $205 for an instructional flight that lasts 20 – 40 minutes depending on the weather. You get to take control of the glider, in Mike’s case for about 5 minutes.
The glider was a GTG, Mike sat at the front and the qualified pilot behind. Mike found it easy to understand the instrument panel and flying the glider involved using the stick in the middle and … Read the rest
After driving a V8 in Taupo Mike was keen to get behind the wheel of another fast machine, so that made gift giving easy this year. Cue Raceline Karting at Off Road NZ, around 25 minutes drive north of Rotorua in the countryside near Mamaku. Off Road NZ is a professional set up with a top class race track. If you know your karts they have 390cc 4 stroke SODI GT3’s imported from France.
Kitted out in a balaclava, overalls, gloves and helmet you’re good to go, up to 100km/hour the website says. I managed an average speed of just … Read the rest
Velocity Valley (formerly Agroventures Adventure Park) in Rotorua is an outdoor temple of adrenalin, there are five ways to get your adrenalin injection – Agrojet, Freefall Xtreme, Swoop, Shweeb and Bungy. We joined a city full of locals earlier this year when Agroventures hosted Locals Weekend. Rotorua residents were generously offered $10 tickets for all activities except bungy jumping which was discounted to $50.
We’d been away for the weekend and arrived at Agroventures late on Sunday afternoon to take our places in the queues. It wasn’t our late arrival that stopped us swinging on the Swoop or doing a … Read the rest
I knew Mike was having the most fun when he roared down the straight in the Holden V8 at Taupo Motorsport Park. He was kitted out in racing gear and had New Zealand’s version of ‘The White Stig’ in the passenger seat. This Stig talks on camera and off and it’s his job to guide drivers round the track, he also has his own set of pedals incase things turn to custard.
Mike had no issues out on the track, but pre-race he came out of the introductory DVD session quite a few shades whiter than when he went in. … Read the rest
The adrenalin wasn’t ours, it belonged to the young girl who was saying “I can’t, I can’t do it”. We were standing on the ground looking up as she hung 50 metres above in the Skyswing at Skyline Rotorua. What she couldn’t do (and who could blame her?) was pull the cord that would release the Skyswing and send her flying over the side of Mount Ngongotaha. (Feb 2017 video shows man fainting twice!! on the Skyswing).
Someone pulled the cord, my guess it was Dad, and the family of three zoomed over our heads. I was relieved, both … Read the rest
G Force Paragliding, Skyline Gondola, Bob’s Peak
After Parasailing in Pahia with Flying Kiwi Parasail I’ve been keen to keep my feet on the ground, or at least on the water. It was Mike who signed up to be a high flyer off Bob’s Peak with G Force Paragliding.
Mike was matched with Rene for the tandem flight, and strapped into a harness – part of the harness turns into a chair once you’re in the air. With the paraglider wing open behind them, they took a few steps down hill, the wing inflated, and they had lift off.… Read the rest
Parasailing has been described as adrenalin lite, having done a bungy jump I tend to agree, but with Flying Kiwi Parasail in Paihia you are going to fly incredibly high – up to 1200 feet – NZ’s highest parasail.
And unlike a bungy which is over in a few seconds, you are going to remain at a great height for around 10 minutes. Those minutes can feel like hours when you’re contemplating shouting “Please Get Me Down From Here”. Unless your wits have deserted you, and mine came close, you realise shouting is pointless, no one in command can hear … Read the rest