These days, a person can fling him/herself off all manner of things with a giant rubber band tied around their ankles. From bridges to buildings to cliffs, bungy jumping is the epitome of adventure sport around the world.
But did you know bungy jumping – modern bungy jumping as we know it today – was actually invented in New Zealand?
Back in the mid-1980s, A.J. Hackett began operating the very first commercial bungy jumping operation off the Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown. And while Queenstown has the most bungy locations in today New Zealand (three), that doesn’t mean it’s the only place to give in to your daredevil tendencies in the country.
Taupo, often referred to as “the adventure capital of the North Island,” is indeed Queenstown’s North Island twin when it comes to variety of adventure sports. And this includes bungy jumping.
Being one of the few bungy locations not operated by A.J. Hackett in New Zealand, the 47-meter Taupo Bungy gives you the most bang for your buck when it comes to bungy jumping in New Zealand.
A jump here suspends you high over the blue-green Waikato River in a location that is definitely photo-worthy. If you want to get up close and personal with the river, the Taupo Bungy also offers New Zealand’s highest water-touch and specializes in dipping jumpers in the river (and taking great photos of the big splash!).
Bungy jumping in Taupo can be done solo or tandem, and in a variety of jump styles (including backwards!). And, if a bungy jump isn’t enough, Taupo Bungy also added their Taupo Cliffhanger swing in late 2009, which sends swingers arcing over the Waikato River at speeds up to 70 kph.
Bungy jumping certainly isn’t for everyone, of course, but it’s a great way to face your fears and challenge yourself in a breathtaking location.
Since 1991, nearly 300,000 people have taken the plunge in Taupo. Will you be next?
So what’s bungy jumping like?
As someone who’s bungy jumped 3 times now (including once in Taupo), I often get asked what it’s like; what to expect. People seem to have the understanding that bungy jumping is not only terrifying, but that it’s also painful. This isn’t true, though. So here, then, is what to expect of an average bungy jump:
Step 1: Arrive at the bungy operator.
Step 2: Commit to jumping and pay the fee. (Note: Most places will not give you a refund if you chicken out!)
Step 3: Have your weight measured so the jump masters can adjust the length of your bungy cord. (In Taupo, this is when you let them know if you want a water touch!)
Step 4: Sign a waiver acknowledging you’re taking a risk by flinging yourself off a cliff.
Step 5: Have a backup safety harness put on (though at some sites this happens later).
Step 6: Head out to the jump site.
Step 7: Usually wait around for a person or two to jump before you. This is the most nerve-wracking part.
Step 8: You’re up! Tell the bungy operator how you want to jump (if there are different options). You will then have the heavy cord fastened around your ankles.
Step 9: Penguin-waddle your way to the edge of the platform, where the bungy operator will give you some last minute guidelines on how to jump. Then, you’ll get the countdown.
Step 10: JUMP!! (Hint: Especially if you’re nervous, don’t even think about it. Hesitating will only make it scarier. As soon as the person counting down yells “jump,” you jump!)
Step 11: Enjoy the few seconds of freefall, and then the gentle bouncing as the bungy cord kicks in. (Note: It is NOT supposed to be painful when the cord kicks in, and it never has been for me.)
Step 12: In places like Taupo, once you finish bouncing, you will be lowered into a raft in the river below and unhooked from the bungy cord. In other places, you will be reeled back up to the jump platform.
Step 13: Wait for your limbs to stop shaking, and then go purchase your photos/videos.
Step 14: Brag about it to all your friends!
(Note: All prices in NZD and valid as of January 2012.)