History - 1986 - Present
Bungy, the word that quickens the pulse and stirs the imagination refers to the challenge and excitement of trusting one’s life to a single rubber cord and then throwing one’s self off a bridge or platform suspended high above the ground. For jumpers the challenge is to overcome their fears and in triumph be able to say, “I did it!”.
AJ Hackett recognised this challenge back in 1986 after seeing a video of jumps performed by “The Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club”. That group had performed several jumps in the late seventies as a modern version of a manhood initiation ritual ceremony performed by natives in Vanuatu.
AJ’s imagination took over, he teamed up with Chris Sigglekow and started experimenting with latex rubber, climbing equipment and parachute harnesses until satisfied that Bungy could be done predictably whilst still being fun. After much testing they then started jumping from many different bridges through the North Island of new Zealand.
In early 1987 AJ travelled to Europe with friend and fellow speed skier Henry van Ash in pursuit of snow and to find new ways and places to Bungy Jump. The pair jumped higher structures up to 150m and carried out further research on equipment and systems that would enable AJ to make what was to be the first of many “extreme” jumps. In Tignes, a ski station in the Savoie region of France, at an altitude of nearly 3700m, AJ jumped from a gondola and at the bottom of the 1st stretch touched down perfectly in deep snow 91 meters below. The jump went exactly as planned in difficult conditions of extreme cold and wind and proved that the Bungy Cord would still be predictable at -20 degrees.
AJ then moved his sights to a jump, which was to have a strong effect on the lives of many people. AJ made the leap from the Eiffel Tower, Paris in June 1987, gaining worldwide media attention. Very soon after the Eiffel Tower Jump other radical jumps were then orchestrated such as the Statue of Liberty, Auckland Stock Exchange Building, and Helicopter Bungy. People throughout the world now recognise AJ as a person synonymous with challenge, safety, and achievement.
In 1988 AJ began offering for the first time public Bungy Jumping in Ohakune, New Zealand before deciding on Queenstown, New Zealand as the ideal place to establish a base for full time operations, which still continues today.
The company and brand AJ Hackett has since spread throughout the world and diversified into other gravity related experiences, thrilling more than 3.5 million ecstatic customers.
Over a quarter of a century later and AJ is is still very hands on within the operation and sets direction on new sites, products and innovation.