Queenstown is a resort town in Otago in the south-west of New Zealand's south island. It is built around an inlet on Lake Wakatipu; a long, thin lake shaped like a staggered lightning bolt. It has magnificent views of nearby mountains.
It is a centre for adventure tourism. Skiing, jet boating, bungy jumping, mountain biking and tramping are all strong there.
Queenstown has a reputation as one of New Zealand's wine and cuisine centres. Neighbouring historic Arrowtown features excellent restaurants and bars, and Queenstown lies close to the centre of a small wine producing region, reputed to be the world's southernmost. Pinot noir produced in this area fetches premium prices.
The Kawarau Bridge is just outside Queenstown, and thanks to Henry van Asch and AJ Hackett, it became the world's first commercial bungy site. That happened in 1988.
Bungy jumping really originated as a sacred harvest ritual in Vanuatu. Land divers tie vines to their feet and fling themselves towards the ground. The ritual fascinated and inspired the Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club who replaced vines with rubber bands, and performed a series of highly publicised jumps at the end of the 1970s.
Henry and AJ got together to work out a safe and predictable system to do repeat jumps and with some ups and downs, literally and metaphorically, and introduced bungy to the world.
They chose Auckland's Greenhithe Bridge for their first recorded bungy jump in 1986. They figured they couldn't come to much harm with a 19-metre fall over deep water. It quickly caught on with friends, and then friends of friends, queuing up to jump. The pair went on to jump off the highest bridges in the North Island.
In November 1988, 28 people paid $75 each to leap off the 43-metre bridge with a bungy cord tied to their ankles. The fledgling company had only a 30-day operating licence from the Department of Conservation and sceptics dubbed it a five-minute wonder that would never catch on. Little did they know ...
Around 450,000 have jumped from the Kawarau Bridge Bungy site.
The south-west of New Zealand's south island.
AJ Hackett Bungy costs around $135 for adults and $90 for children. Transport from Queenstown, a certificate and T-shirt are included.
Air New Zealand has flights to Queenstown.
One-way fares from;
- Sydney, $381
- Melbourne, $385
- Brisbane, $388
- Adelaide, $488
- Perth, $604
AJ Hackett Bungy Queenstown
Kawarau Bungy Centre
State Highway 6
Ph: 64 3 442 1177 or 0800 286 492
Air New Zealand
Ph: 132 476