Shotover Canyon Swing turns 10 and still innovating
Shotover Canyon Swing turns 10 and still innovating
The world’s highest cliff jump operator Shotover Canyon Swing is celebrating a milestone birthday, turning a big 10 years old on Sunday (December 2).
From humble beginnings to exponential sales and popularity, Shotover Canyon Swing has achieved formidable success in just ten years. It’s become the ‘must do’ adrenaline activity on the adventure circuit, with more than120,000 people having jumped from their Shotover River cliff edge, and out of those more than 50% opting to jump again and again.
Most notably Shotover Canyon Swing has gained enormous respect as an innovator – constantly edging ‘outside the square’, challenging the norms, pushing the ‘Number 8 wire’ mentality of Kiwi ingenuity.
General Manager Matt Hollyer, at the helm of the company for over seven years, said the focus on innovation was at the very heart of the company.
“We created a great product, sustained it, refined it and with encouragement from agents and customers it simply gets better and better,” he said.
Innovation is certainly key to every aspect of the operation. From just five jump styles in the first year of operation, swingers lining up to take the 109m plunge can now choose between over 70 modes of launching off the edge, the most famous being the original ‘Gimp Boy Goes To Hollywood’.
To celebrate the 10 year milestone, it has come up with a new jump.
“It’s a world first,” Mr Hollyer explained. “It’s our new tandem chair, code named ‘Cheer Chair’.
“This is exactly how we operate. Getting older hasn’t quelled the passion, but simply made us more ingenious, more experienced and very proud of what we offer the world’s adventurers.”
Passion and ingenuity have been there from the start, stemming from a love of climbing and freefalling by originators Hamish Emerson and Chris Russell.
From throwing mates off the cliff and finding the ideal location to do so, they then pursued all engineering and safety requirements for the then aptly named ‘Not Your Average Backyard Variety Swing’. They built the track, swing and platform by hand, hauling 1.2 tonnes of wire cable and 1.5 tonnes of concrete to the present day site and launch pad overlooking the Shotover River.
“There were no helicopters, no mechanical diggers, just a growing credit card debt and three years of hard yakka,” said Mr Hollyer.
When the first commercial swing was swung on December 2, 2002, no-one had any idea just how big it would become.
Today Shotover Canyon Swing employs 22 full time staff and has won a very long list of awards, (the favourite still being Supreme Award for Humour in Business 2007 and 2008).
Mr Hollyer credited much of this success to the staff’s focus on overall customer experience at every point of the journey.
“While safety is paramount, humour and taking sufficient time to enjoy the location and the ‘eccentricities’ of the team are also integral,” he said.
Shotover Canyon Swing fans are urged to pay close attention to its Facebook page for fun birthday-related challenges, called the ‘10 days of swing fest’ - a zany line up of surprises, prizes and competitions.
“Prepare costumes, come up with new jump styles, count your fingers and toes, or put pen to paper. It’ll be worth it, I promise you!” said Mr Hollyer.
Those with a birthday between December 2 and 12 can line up for a free jump by getting along to the Shotover Street office with photo ID in hand.
For more information on Shotover Canyon Swing visit www.canyonswing.co.nz.
To follow all birthday competitions visit http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shotover-Canyon-Swing/47078212798 or the team’s blog on www.canyonswing.co.nz/blog.
Ten years of fun birthday facts from Shotover
• 200,000 organic or inorganic jumps have been completed i.e. people or concrete barrels
• SCS’s most experienced jumper is the test barrel having completed over 4000 jumps
• 109 different nationalities have jumped
• Jumpmasters have been sworn at or abused approximately 400,000 times
• And hugged 50,000 times
• Of 5,000 naked jumpers, 4,500 shouldn’t have done it naked
• The longest serving jumpmaster has been there for eight years, Operations Manager Harry (aka Brad Cutler)
*(See www.canyonswing.co.nz for minimum age and weight restrictions)
About Shotover Canyon Swing:
Not your average backyard experience, the Shotover Canyon Swing is an undie-staining, adrenalin stimulating activity achieved by launching yourself from a platform perched on top of a very high cliff edge. Reaching speeds of up to 150kph as the rocks rush towards you in a 60m freefall, the ropes then smoothly swing you out across the famous Shotover Canyon.
From mild to mindblowing, we’ve got a jumpstyle to suit the most timid of swingers and the most adventurous adrenalin junkie, including a Tandem Cliff Jump, specially designed for two.
Shotover Canyon Swing is a multi-award winning, Outdoors Mark certified and Qualmark-endorsed activity.
All Shotover Canyon Swing experiences are safe, fun and rewarding. Safety considerations are fundamental to every aspect of the operation with the best crew, training, equipment and procedures in place to give ensure the best experience. Swingers are secure in a chest and seat harness and swing on 2 independent ropes, each with a breaking strain of 2.8 tonnes, enough to lift four cars. All aspects of the swing satisfy industry safety requirements and are regularly inspected, maintained and upgraded. Experienced and extensively trained jumpmasters ensure your safety at all times. Regular rigorous inspections ensure the highest standards of operation.
Best Experience in New Zealand 2007, 2008 and 2010 The TNT Magazine Golden Backpacks Consumer Voted Awards
Humour in Business Supreme Award 2007 and 2008
Best Bungy/Swing at the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Rankers NZ Traveler Awards
New Zealand Tourism Industry Association’s 2008 ‘Adventure Category Award’