Video footage from the early Eighties portrays AJ Hackett and Henry Van Ash as downhill speed skiing adrenalin addicts (complete with mullet haircuts). They both seem highly focused on pushing whatever limits they can find.
Bungy jumping was started as a fertility ritual by the Gkol "land divers" on Pentecost Island - Vanuatu. Young women would hurl themselves off a platform with vines attached to their feet. The early missionaries didn’t like this idea so they banned the women from partaking in the event and it became a 'test' of manhood instead.
AJ Hackett and Henry van Asch saw a video of the “land divers” and their obsession with bungy began. The word ‘Bungy’ comes from kiwi slang and roughly means ‘elastic strap’ - the kind that you would use to tie a surfboard to the roof of a car.
Modern bungy jumping by definition means jumping off a platform attached to an industrial elastic cord made of latex. Between 1986 and 1987, Henry and AJ set up jumps from the Eiffel Tower, hot air balloons, helicopters, and ski lifts. Together, in 1988, they then set up the world's first permanent commercial bungy site at the Kawarau Bridge Queenstown. This marked the genesis of modern day bungy jumping – AJ Hackett style.
Article by Sarah Bond, Travel Writer
"At least one of AJ Hackett Bungy's activities should definitely be in your Queenstown Top 10 Things to Do list!"