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The original bungy jumping experience from Kawarau Bridge with AJ Hackett - Queenstown New Zealand

Updated on April 17, 2011

The view down from Kawarau Bridge

In a town that is notorious for catering to adventure tourism there is one activity that people come for more than any other. Queenstown is synonymous with bungy jumping. It’s where the first commercial bungy jumping operation commenced 1988 and its evolution has been taken, not unexpectedly, to extremes. Queenstown itself is surrounded by a mountain range aptly named The Remarkables and sits on Lake Wakatipu. It’s a glitzier town than the rest of the laid back south island of New Zealand. What it has lost in quaintness however it makes up for in sheer exhilaration.

Bungy jumping in New Zealand - tick!

Only 20 minutes drive out of town is Kawarau Bridge, the site of the AJ Hackett Kawarau Bungy Centre. The 43 meter dive is taken every few minutes, with the crew taking regular rest breaks to keep themselves fresh and alert.  Don't let the piercings fool you, these people are true professionals. There is a large decking area where the public can watch this spectacle and it is surprisingly easy to spend half a day watching people take the plunge, feeding off their exuberant nervous energy when they get back to the top. The scenery is spectacular with the bridge spanning rocky cliffs and an unnaturally brilliant aqua river running beneath. Once over the shock of seeing a person drop from the bridge and be retrieved from below with a large pole by crew in a blow up dingy it becomes mesmerizing to watch the reactions of people just out on the deck seeing their first jumper. Another voyeuristic pleasure of the decking is to listen into other’s conversations, ‘Are you going to do it?’ ‘I’ll do it if you do it!’ ‘No, I can’t’ ‘Yes you can’. Inevitably they turn to a person dripping wet, standing on the deck with a look of exhilaration in their eyes and ask, ‘Should I do it?’  The answer is always 'Yes!'

And just about anybody can take the dive. Anyone from age 10 to 110 can jump and the weight range is from 35 to 235 kg. All jumpers are weighted and this is used to determine how much cord will be needed for each individual. They are precise to the centimeter, jumpers can choose how far into the water below they would like to go, not at all, a finger tap or all the way. To jump will cost $180NZ but an extra not to be passed up is the photo pack. With professional camera operators taking photos from all possible angles, do it yourself photos just don’t do the experience justice.

When this site was granted its permit in November 1988 bungy jumping was seen as a fad that was likely to die out with the tourists who were mainly attracted to Queenstown for its snowfields.  This didn’t happen and the ‘sport’ has further developed to crazier heights.  AJ Hackett in Queenstown alone offers a number of bungy experiences including the ledge swing, part bungy, part swing over the town, the Nevis bungy which includes 8.5 seconds of freefall and the Nevis Arc billed as the world’s biggest swing with a 300 meter arc over Nevis Gorge.  As the cords can only be used a certain number of times pieces of bungy cord are available to buy in the gift shop and make a great talking point.

A visit to Queenstown isn’t complete without at the very least watching a bungy jump. However be warned that watching a few take the plunge may just make you change your mind about jumping off a perfectly good bridge.


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    • Bianca Rose profile image

      Bianca Rose 7 years ago from Australia

      I didn't jump, I'm a bit soft when it comes to things like that. My husband and another friend did and they loved it. New Zealand is such a fun place for a holiday.

    • simeonvisser profile image

      simeonvisser 7 years ago

      Hey Bianca Rose, did you jump yourself? I jumped from the same bridge. It's an amazing experience I must say, I've also written a hub about it.