AJ Hackett Bungy celebrates 20th anniversary
Media Release from AJ Hackett Bungy
Thursday November 6 2008
Iconic tourism pioneer AJ Hackett Bungy celebrates 20th anniversary in style
Twenty years to the day after the world’s first commercial bungy jump opened at Queenstown’s Kawarau Bridge, pioneering tourism company AJ Hackett Bungy will celebrate its groundbreaking anniversary in style.
On November 12 1988, twenty-eight people paid $75 each to leap off the 43-metre bridge with a bungy cord attached to their ankles.
And exactly 20 years later, bungy founders Henry van Asch and AJ Hackett will be back on the bridge where it all started for an anniversary celebration like no other.
Nearly 500 primary school children from around the region have been invited to the bridge to join in the carnival atmosphere and meet their adventure tourism heroes.
Henry and AJ are planning to do a tandem jump in recognition of their world-renowned tourism achievement, and the open day will feature $88 jumps for people wearing 1980s fashion. There will also be stunt jumping displays, a sausage sizzle and a DJ.
Over the years, more than half a million people have jumped from the Kawarau Bridge, something that still continues to delight Henry van Asch.
“After we’d had very successful groups of jumpers in France, and had operated in Ohakune for a couple of weekends over the winter of 1988, we knew we wanted to set up in Queenstown because it was the Mecca for tourism,” said Henry.
“We talked to the Department of Conservation about using the old Kawarau Bridge and said we would help restore the structure, and they issued us our initial 21-day permit.
“We developed the concept of the double-sided jump deck and AJ got to work with a gang of mates who helped pull it all together.
“Lots of people had heard what we were going to do and the buzz around town was huge because we were pretty excited ourselves, so around 1pm, after AJ had finished painting the deck, we did a display and people rolled up to jump.
“The whole build up was such a haze of activity that we didn’t have too much time to think about it, to realise what we might have started. Opening day was a bit of a blur, but I know several hundred people came out to watch.
“Some thought we were mad and that we’d never last, but with the response we started to get an idea we were onto a great thing. Things went well and DoC was happy so our licence was extended to six months, then five years.
“Now it’s great to be in the position of being 20 years down the track, being able to look back and know that so many people have had a great time and this challenge has changed their lives.”
Henry said he was particularly thrilled to have hundreds of local schoolchildren coming to the bridge to help celebrate the 20th anniversary.
“These kids have grown up with bungy, but it’s still a challenge for them, they’re still motivated to want to do it.
“When I stand out there with AJ I know we are still both as passionate about it as we were then. It has been a fantastic ride and we’re both really happy to have done something that’s been fulfilling for all our jumpers and crew from all around the world, for Queenstown, and for tourism.”
More about Bungy New Zealand
Bungy New Zealand, owner of AJ Hackett Bungy, prides itself on being a world leader in personal challenge and adventure tourism.
AJ Hackett Bungy is a sustainable tourism operation that has been in business since 1988. Recognised as experts in fun and adventure, the culture of the business is one of safety, entertainment, innovation, humour and respect.
Through the world-renowned brand AJ Hackett Bungy, Bungy jumping has become a New Zealand icon and exemplifies all things ‘Kiwi’.
Co-founder of AJ Hackett Bungy, Henry van Asch, accomplished a decade of success in New Zealand adventure tourism with business partner AJ Hackett before founding Bungy New Zealand in 1997.
The Bungy New Zealand Group includes AJ Hackett Bungy, the Original Kawarau Bridge Bungy, Nevis Highwire Bungy, Ledge Bungy, Ledge Sky Swing, Auckland Bungy and Auckland Bridge Climb.