Bungy Jumping: the Ultimate New Zealand Outdoor Pursuit
New Zealand may be a tiny country, but it has a reputation for being a world leader in outdoor adventure activities. Outdoor pursuits are now one of the country’s major tourist attractions. There are so many opportunities to push yourself to your limits and experience an adrenalin rush while doing so. All over the country there are opportunities for paddling down rivers, white-water rafting, mountain climbing, snowboarding, windsurfing, rock climbing, swimming with dolphins and a whole host of other activities. But, the ultimate adrenalin rush must surely come from bungy jumping.
Bungy jumping, for those who don’t know, is when you throw yourself off a very high platform, usually over a river, with nothing but a huge sophisticated rubber band preventing you from crashing into the river below. Before you ask, no, I haven’t personally done this. But, I have watched it and talked to people who have been brave enough to throw their bodies into an empty space way above ground level, just for the thrill it gives.
Bungy jumping came into being after the Kiwi (New Zealander) AJ Hackett experienced the land divers of Vanuatu.
He and his dare devil friends then decided to create an opportunity to develop this as an adventure activity for tourists in New Zealand. The world first learned of bungy jumping when AJ Hackett made a well publicised jump from the Eiffel Tower in 1986.
Two years later he was operating the first bungy jumping company near Queenstown in New Zealand’s South Island. This is still in operation, sending thousands of people hurtling off bridges each year. The most popular jump is off the Kawarau Suspension Bridge near Queenstown. The platform is 43 metres above the Kawarau River. Having flung themselves into the air, literally flying over the river with ankles attached to a large rubber band, the jumper eventually bobs about like a yoyo before being retrieved by a rubber dinghy.
Another more spectacular jump near Queenstown, operated by the same company, is off the Skippers Canyon Bridge, 71 metres above the Shotover River
The major bungy jumping centre in the North Island is near Taupo. Here jumpers leap off a platform down towards the Waikato River 45 metres below. The scenic Waikato River makes this the most popular North Island jump.
Obviously there is an element of risk when you throw yourself off a platform, trusting your life to a big rubber band. It is therefore essential that, when taking part in such an activity, you do it with a reputable experienced company. The two places mentioned above are both well organised and safety checks ensure that every possible precaution has been taken.
Perceived danger is part of the thrill. If it is an adrenalin pumping outdoor activity you’re after, then you need look no further. Bungy jumping in New Zealand is the place for you.
The original bungy jump: