A Backpacker’s Quest to Get Some Big Air

Sometimes when plans don’t quite work out, what happens instead can be pleasantly surprising. That’s what happens today when we are getting geared ready to do a skydive. We are up to the point where we have the jumpsuits on, harnesses strapped, and we’re ready to hit the skies for a freefall over Wanaka…

Out of nowhere, the clouds roll in and it looks like it’s ready to rain – not what you want when you’re freefalling at 200kph. So the skydive is rescheduled for Monday. (Brilliant, we have more time to mentally prepare)!

So Day 129, What are we going to do with you?

Our aim for New Zealand’s Biggest Gap Year is to do 365 days doing 365 activities, so we need a rainy day activity that’s going to kick ass. Robin thinks he knows just the place…

The AirShed

AirShed is a trampoline, airbag and skate park facility. The way you use the place is up to you. Avid riders, skiers, skaters and surfers go there to start out or progress with those big air tricks (and have a safe place to land). Even the professionals using Wanaka’s ski fields fine tune their skills here. During our visit today, an international team of skiers and riders from Ireland are showing us up big time! (That’s not difficult… as you are about to find out).

Then there are those who want to perfect their trampolining gymnastics, others learning drop-ins on the skate ramps, and kids just having a freakin’ whale of a time bouncing about the place and flipping off anything they can flip off. AirShed is a high-energy place!

That one time climbing without ropes when it is Ok to fall That one time climbing without ropes when it is Ok to fall
The AirShed's skate park The AirShed's skate park
Robin killing it on the bounce board Robin killing it on the bounce board
Laura catching some big air but distorted shapes Laura catching some big air but distorted shapes

From airplane to airshed

Having not done any successful flips or tricks on trampolines before, our drive back from the airport to the AirShed is full of uncertainty and excitement. Are we really going to actually be able to do any tricks when we get there? We are approaching this as complete newbies so anything could happen (or little could happen because we probably suck).

We arrive at the AirShed and are greeted by Aaron, the AirShed boss man from Canada who custom built this place just over a year ago. He has been surfing, kitesurfing and flipping his way through almost his entire life, so he is the man to show us a few tricks.

Learning to backflip

“I’m going to show you how to backflip,” says Aaron. Robin points the finger straight at Laura so somehow, Laura is now learning to do a backflip on a trampoline… What?!

God, if anyone who knew Laura from back in the day when she was a hopeless kid who couldn’t even do a forward-roll heard she was about to attempt to do this, they would laugh in her face! Well, on a gap year in New Zealand, you can be a whole new person doing whole new things, right?

See you on the flip side

Aaron clears the trampoline of the kids doing all sorts of flips and tricks. “I can usually teach people to do a backflip in 5 minutes,” he says. No pressure, Laura.

First steps, bouncing off your back onto the trampoline. It’s a shaky start but Laura gets somewhere after five or six attempts. Now, Aaron is coming in to start the backflip.

Oh my God, this is going to happen. Laura has to commit to the whole flip or else she could land on her head. (Disclaimer: no she won’t – Aaron is here to stop that happening). 1…2…3… Laura flips right round landing on her hands and knees… Not her feet, like she was supposed to, but we’ll get there. And she does! After a few more attempts and building up the confidence, she backflips. It’s not smooth. It probably doesn’t look pretty but it’s far more than she expected herself to achieve!

Robin in climbing action Robin in climbing action
See you on the flippity flip! See you on the flippity flip!
Aaaannnddd, back in the kitchen Aaaannnddd, back in the kitchen

Airbags and tramps

Backflips aside, we have a go on the rest of the facilities here. We hone in on our not-so-mad climbing skills learned in Ohakune, and climb the wall with the pure thrill of falling off the wall into the airbag below. Then there’s the large trampoline outside made for launching onto an airbag.

A few bounce boards (like foamy snowboard that strap to your feet) are knocking about to practice those tucks, 360s and whatever the hell you want – it’s all good when you have a soft landing!

Skater boy

Meanwhile, down at the skate ramp, Robin tries to remember his skating skills from his childhood but does nothing to impress. We try out some fun skateboards made to improve surfers’ skills with super loose and sensitive trucks for sharp turns. Again we don’t impress with these skills but it’s just fun to play around and try to get the hang of it.

We definitely didn’t mind swapping the airplane for the AirShed today doing tricks we never thought we’d be able to do. Good call, Robin, for knowing about this awesome place and good call, Aaron for setting this facility up!

Dinner with the locals

Next up, we’re heading to the supermarket to pick up some dessert for dinner at our friends’ place just out of Wanaka! Like all good homes in New Zealand, there’s a dog to place with, beer in the fridge, and some awesome residents. Our friends, Lisa and Ben, had planned to fire up the BBQ but… It starts raining again, so Robin and Ben rock it in the kitchen making blue cheese burgers, chicken wings and a mean salad! Lisa and Laura offer emotional support…

Tomorrow, we are going to hop in some super-charged vehicles that promise to be faster, bigger and more badass than anything we have been in before. Join us then!

Laura and Robin

Jumping, climbing, falling, flailing... We can do it all at the Airshed!
Jumping, climbing, falling, flailing... We can do it all at the Airshed! Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

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See you tomorrow!

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