New Zealand is the place to come for adventure sports. And Queenstown is the town to come to in New Zealand. On a walk down Shotover Street, you’ll pass stores selling jet boat rides, canyon swings, white water rafting, skydives, zip line adventures, and yes, bungy jumping. Oh bungy jumping, the act of tying your ankles to a stretchy bungy cord and jumping off a bridge. As Kiwi as Meat Pies.
Bungy jumping has a history that dates back hundreds or even thousands of years. Its origins are found on the Pacific Island of Pentecost with the people of the Vanuatu. The men of the Vanautu perform a yearly ritual where they jump from an elevated platform with vines tied around their ankles. This act of bravery is symbolic as they prove their heroism to the women of the tribe. Bungy jumping has matured significantly and while it’s commercialized throughout the world and probably safer than driving down the SH1 in New Zealand, it is still one hell of a test of bravery.
AJ Hackett set up the first commercial bungy in the world when he founded the Kawarau Bridge Bungy just ouside of Queenstown in 1988. It quickly became a popular extreme sport and now you can bungy jump throughout the world with AJ Hackett – a trusted name in the sport. AJ Hackett operates four bungy jump sites in New Zealand: The Kawarau Bridge Bungy (Queenstown), The Auckland Bridge Bungy, The Nevis Highwire Bungy (Queentown), and The Ledge Bungy in Queenstown.
The Ledge Bungy is unique for a number of reasons and recently I had the opportunity to experience it. First, it’s set in an absolutely epic spot 400 meters above beautiful Queenstown. To get to this urban bungy site, you take the Skyline Gondola from town to high above Queenstown – an experience in itself.
As you’re nearing the top of the gondola, you’re given your first view of what is to come – a bungy that feels higher than it is given the beautiful backdrop of Queenstown, The Remarkables, and Lake Wakatipu. This is one thing that AJ Hackett always does well – the pre-jump experience. You’re given plenty of time to think about your jump as you’re riding the gondola and slowly gaining elevation above Queenstown. It’s all a head game – and the longer you think about the jump, the harder it becomes.
The Ledge Bungy is especially unique as you have the opportunity to jump at night. This brings a whole new sensation to the bungy experience. It’s one thing to throw yourself off a bridge during the day. Everything in your body and mind tells you not to. Your rational thinking conscience screams that something isn’t right. Jumping into the darkness is difficult, challenging, yet one hell of an experience. It’s a magical place to jump with the lights of Queenstown below you contrasted with the darkened waters of Lake Wakatipu and The Remarks.
You also have the option of a number of different jump styles at The Ledge given the harness system in use. The traditional bungy has a foot harness with your ankles attached to the bungy cord. On The Ledge, the bungy cord is attached to a waist harness allowing you to run and jump, flip, spin, dive, or whatever combination of this lot you can imagine.
As this was my third bungy in New Zealand, I fully expected it to be significantly easier than the first two. It wasn’t. It was just as challenging, exciting, and rewarding an experience as the first two jumps. I chose to make a running leap into the darkness and it was a brilliant feeling diving head first into the dark over Queenstown. The adrenaline rush from a bungy quite literally lasts for days. It’s a rush that can’t adequately be described in writing.
As always, AJ Hackett provides an excellent bungy experience. They do it right from start to finish. I continue to be impressed with the balance the staff strikes between fun and professionalism – a balance you undoubtedly want on the day you jump. You’ll have plenty of adventure activities to choose from when you visit Queenstown, but whatever you do, make sure you plan a jump with AJ Hackett.
If you’re thinking of taking the leap off The Ledge Bungy, here are some facts to get you started:
How high? The Ledge Bungy is found 400 meters above Queenstown – the jump itself is 47 meters.
How much? The jump will cost you NZ$175 (Plus a $23 return ticket on the Skyline Gondola). AJ Hackett includes a free shirt with the jump.
Where? Top of the Skyline Gondola. Book your jump in advance in the Station Building on Shotover Street.
Is it worth it? Yes. Nothing in New Zealand is cheap, including this jump. I do recommend it as it’s a really unique spot for a jump. Spend the afternoon at the top of the Skyline Gondola, taking in the views, watching the paragliders, and treat it as a half day activity. Jump at sunset.