As the adventure capital of world, Queenstown boasts several adrenalin-inducing activities. And, one of the most nerve-inducing – diving headfirst off a ridiculously high bridge or platform - is one of the most popular things to do while you’re here.
There are three bungy jumping sites in Queenstown, all run by AJ Hackett, the company that started it all in 1987. Kawarau Bridge is an iconic spot, Nevis has the largest human catapult in the world, and Bob's Peak, at the top of Queenstown Gondola, has some of the region's best views.
Bungy jumping is a quintessential Queenstown activity – after all, where better to jump off a bridge than where it all began? Kawarau Bridge, just before you enter Gibbston Valley, is the site of the world's first commercial bungy jumping operation. Founded in 1987, the AJ Hackett operation is still on the bridge, helping xx people to jump every hour.
Excited jumpers stand on the bridge, edging over the ledge once they've been strapped in. For many, jumping in Queenstown is a bucket list activity and not necessarily one that will be repeated elsewhere. As one points out to her friend, "if you're going to this, you may as well do it here."
Kawarau Bridge stretches over a gorge, with the blue Kawarau River far below. Jumpers are strapped in and then dive (or fall) 43m from the bridge, arcing out in the space before swinging in wide arcs over the water. They eventually stop, and a boat collects them and brings them to shore. Bouncing with adrenalin, they race up the many steps back to the viewing platform, reuniting with their friends.
For somewhat less adventurous travellers or those under 10, there is also a zipline at Kawarau Bridge, allowing you to race alongside the gorge at 60km/hr. There's also a tandem option for children.
If you aren't interested in jumping or ziplining, Kawarau Bridge is also a great place to see the bungy jumpers up close. The viewing platforms give you a great perspective of the bridge, the countryside, and the river below. In addition, the Kawarau Bungy Centre displays a history of AJ Hackett and bungy jumping in New Zealand, and it's also on the way to the Gibbston Valley wineries.
If you're looking to take the adventure up a notch, the Nevis Playground is the place to go. Just hop on a 4WD bus in Queenstown and head through Gibbston to the Nevis Valley. The exhilarating activities on offer include the Nevis Bungy, the highest in New Zealand. The 134m drop will give you an 8.5-second free-fall. This one isn't for the fainthearted!
If you aren't sure that the bungy is enough of a thrill, try the world's biggest human catapult instead. The Nevis Catapult will propel you 150m out over the Nevis Valley. You'll reach 100km/hr in less than two seconds – the speed alone is incredible, and you can be sure this is an experience you'll NEVER forget.
While many consider swings relaxing, the Nevis Swing breaks the mould. The most famous swing in the world swoops out 300m, dropping deep into the valley. You can go by yourself or with a friend, and kids aged 10 and up can have a go too.
Nevis isn't as accessible as Kawarau Bridge, and spectators will also need to pay a fee and ride in the bus. However, visiting Nevis Playground is a fun experience; the views are great, and the excitement is contagious, even if you aren't jumping or swinging yourself.
For a bungy jump with spectacular views, head to the ledge at the top of the Queenstown gondola. While this doesn't come with the height of Nevis or the history of Kawarau Bridge, it's by far the most convenient option if you're staying in town. You'll probably want to head up the gondola during your stay, anyway, so book your bungy before you go.
Jump 47m from the platform high above Queenstown. It's a freestyle bungy, so you can jump any way you want and, of course, you'll be surrounded by those epic views. But, if you're after something a bit different, you can also swing out 47m from the ledge. The beauty of this one is that you can release the cord yourself.
Note: The Ledge Bungy and swing are temporarily closed.