Bungy jumping. Bungee jumping. Whatever you want to call it, is well known worldwide but I guess nothing or no one in the bungy jump world is as famous as AJ Hackett. The New Zealand born entrepreneur created the concept of bungy jumping in the 1980’s when he performed his first amateur jump from the Upper Harbour Bridge in Auckland.
Inevitably, back then, people thought he was simply crazy. Who in their right mind would jump from such a height attached to nothing but a rope harness? However, as is obvious these days, it be-came quite a phenomenon and is now performed worldwide by many individuals wanting to experi-ence the ultimate thrill.
Personally, before the 15 April 2015, I had never embarked on a bungy jump myself. I had heard plenty of enthusiastic reviews from friends who had completed one, and this resulted in my imagi-nation running wild, but I had yet to throw myself off the side of a bridge or ledge attached only to a rope by my ankles.
The thought of doing this filled me with a mixture of emotions: utter excitement and anticipation paired with anxiousness and a little nervousness. What would it feel like? I knew it would be the ul-timate adrenaline rush, so deep down, I really couldn’t wait.
My travelling partner, Jack, and I were some of the first to complete the Kawarau Bridge Bungy on the bright and crisp Wednesday morning. We had only landed in Queenstown a few days earlier and were both extremely in awe of the incredible surroundings. Rolling hills and snowy mountains met perfectly with an untouched blue sky. Perfect. The infrastructure of the bridge glistened in the sunshine as I walked along it, preparing for what was to come next. A jump. A big, big jump. ‘Let’s do this!’, I said to myself in my head.
My anxiousness did increase as the moment drew closer. The professional and welcoming staff started to fit the harness onto my ankles. With each second, the reality was becoming bigger. I knew that in just a few seconds I would be throwing myself off the bridge and falling 43 metres to-wards the water.
I slowly manoeuvred my feet towards the edge. I glanced down. It was so beautiful yet so daunting. But I knew that I couldn’t let my nerves overshadow the experience. ‘Just enjoy it!’ And that was it. I spread my arms out wide, just like a bird, and pushed my feet away from the surface. And I was flying. Falling. Wow. What an adrenaline rush. What a buzz.
I felt the harness catch and pull me up, away from the water. I was hanging there, swinging about on the rope, taking in what had just happened. An instant rush. So crazy! But I did it, and immedi-ately felt a sense of a achievement. I knew it was something I’d never forget.
And that wasn’t it. I’d be back in ultimate thrill mode in just a couple of hours, this time high up in the mountains at ‘The Ledge’, another iconic AJ Hackett location with unbeatable views of Lake Waka-tipu and the surrounding mountains. The Ledge is home to a 47 metre bungy jump and a swing which really isn’t for the faint hearted! Don’t be misled by the tame nature of its name – the swing really is the ultimate heart-racing, stomach-dropping exploit! And that’s not all that makes it so unique. You control when you plunge through the air; it is up to you to pull the red chord and decide your fate!
When it was my turn, I was fitted with a harness just like at the Kawarau bungy, but this time it cov-ered my whole body and, following certain comments from the AJ Hackett staff, I knew I was in for a breathtaking ride!
My harness was attached to various chords and ropes. I was lowered into a sitting position and moved out to hang in the air. I was dangling with the ground many metres below me. The adrena-line was pumping. But I convinced myself to just enjoy the experience. ‘Don’t feel nervous. Just take in the moment, because you’ll never forget it!’
I posed for some photos but just couldn’t wait for the moment to begin. I clutched hold of the red chord, took a deep breath and… Boom. I think I screamed like I never have before, and my stomach dropped like it never had in the past. I flew through the air, feeling ultimate ecstasy. The speed, the rush; the feeling of the cold air tingling on my cheeks. I swung above the mountainous land-scape and must have had the widest smile on my face. It was another moment I’ll treasure. I was buzzing.
Some people used the word ‘scary’ to describe the swing, but I disagree. This word puts a negative emphasis on it. I would describe it as a true challenge, with the ultimate reward.
Jack completed the Ledge Bungy and felt a similar feeling to me. Although nerves never really phase him. He just goes for it, and I guess that’s the best way to be. It was so special to share these unique times together. He loved the freedom of this jump, as he was attached by his waist rather than his ankles, so could jump, flip, twist…he could truly improvise and make the experience his own. He chose to take a run up and dive, meaning he soared through the air. He has emphasised consistently how much he loved it – and wants to do it again, and again, and again…
If I could give any advice to people completing a bungy or swing, it would be ‘just do it’. It is natural to be nervous and a little anxious. But don’t let those feelings get in the way. Enjoy the moment, and create the unforgettable memories. You won’t regret it.
My experience was made even better by the professionalism of the AJ Hackett staff. We were made to feel so welcome, and the atmosphere at both locations filled me with anticipation and ex-citement from the moment we arrived to the moment we left. All staff members were happy to be sharing the experience with us. We got some fantastic photos to remind us of the incredible day, and I will fondly show them off to family and friends. The expertly produced videos also allow us to relive the moments and show others what a unique and thrilling time we had.
If you’re looking for the ultimate adrenaline rush and a unique way to enjoy the stunning Queens-town scenery, then do one of AJ Hackett’s many incredible offerings. You’ll never forget it. They are memories I will treasure forever, and one day I will be doing these activities again. Maybe next time I will venture for the even higher Nevis Bungy! Nothing can beat a challenge. It is what life is all about!
It certainly is a must-do whilst you’re in Queenstown and, what’s more, you can experience the thrills all year round. This beautiful town on New Zealand’s south island boasts many spectacular views – why not witness them in the best way possible? With an AJ Hackett ultimate adrenaline thrill…!!