Culture & Heritage

AJ Hackett Bungy - The Bungy Kings

AJ Hackett Bungy comes from a land where nothing is impossible and innovation knows no bounds. The land of New Zealand where adventure tourism was born. Like to get your adrenaline flowing? We know a place.


Not only is Queenstown the Adventure Capital of the World but it is also the World Home of Bungy – The Kawarau Bridge. On 12th November 1988, bungy pioneers and business partners, AJ Hackett and Henry Van Asch jumped into the public spotlight by launching the world’s first commercial bungy jumping site, off the historic Kawarau Bridge. Now, with nearly 30 years of operating experience, AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand has become renowned as one of the most exhilarating things to do in the country.

Bungy began with a small group of people in Vanuatu. For centuries, the locals of Pentecost Island fearlessly threw themselves from huge towers with a few vines around their feet. They called it ‘land-diving’, and legend says that it started when a mistreated wife threw herself from a tall tree, saving herself with the vines while the husband fell to his death. Women reconstructed the event annually. Eventually men joined in to prove their courage, and the tradition is upheld to this day.

This ancient ritual inspired the Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club in the 1970s. AJ Hackett and a few friends, saw a video of this group in action and, in true Kiwi fashion, their imagination took over. 

AJ and Henry started developing bungy cords with a bit of help from Auckland University scientists. They knew people would be just as pumped as they were to take a leap of faith, push the limits, and live without fear. 

The young men discovered that if you took a single strand of the rubber and stretched it to 6.7-times its length, it would snap. However, at four-times its length, it was only using 15 per cent of its breaking strain. This gave them a big safety margin and a general formula: divide the height of the jump by four and that determines the length of the bungy cord.

After some extensive testing, they needed a radical way to demonstrate their faith in the bungy ropes. What they did would make headlines around the world. In June 1987, they snuck up the Eiffel Tower at night. The next morning, AJ jumped from the first floor of the iconic building. The spectacle worked: recorded by TV crew and arrested on the spot (and released five minutes later) he gained worldwide attention.

Bungy took off. The world’s first commercial bungy operation opened at the Kawarau Bridge in November 1988. It has been hailed as the birthplace of adventure tourism in New Zealand and now attracts more than 500,000 people each year.

AJ Hackett Bungy continues to hold its place at the cutting-edge of global adventure tourism. In addition to its bungy experience it also offers giant swings, bridge climbs, ziprides and Sky Tower jumps.

Like to get your adrenaline flowing? We know a place.

New Zealand. Together we can do amazing things.