Adventure tourism has almost the same excitement for the spectator as the participant. It is especially good for the camera-wielding blog-writing spectator such as myself. But penning a few words about people who jump off the Waiau Ferry Bridge at Hanmer Springs Attractions, my spell-checker became confused with the spelling of ‘bungy’ – or is it ‘bungee?’
Here’s the rundown. Both are correct. But ‘bungy’ is the correct term for Hanmer Springs Attractions.
‘Bungee’ was coined by the English-based Oxford Dangerous Sports Club. The first bungee jump was made on April 1, 1979 from the impressive 76 m-high Clifton Suspension Bridge spanning Bristol’s Avon Gorge.
Inspired by the event, two Kiwi guys, AJ Hackett and Henry van Asch, created a commercial version of jumping from great heights near Queenstown in 1988. With help from scientists at the Auckland University, they developed their elastic cord and called their new adrenalin-rush activity, ‘Bungy.’
Against expectations, their new tourist activity caught on and became a draw-card for Adventure Tourism in New Zealand. Bungy had been put on the world map the previous year when Hackett jumped (illegally) from the Eiffel Tower in Paris. He was arrested soon after but the event proved to be a very successful publicity stunt.
Hanmer Springs Attractions has a worthy souvenir shop at its headquarters idyllically overlooking the Waiau River and nearby Ferry Bridge. Hanmer Springs Attraction’s boss, Neil Duncan, is a dab hand at the coffee machine. On the counter I spotted short lengths of the 4 cm-thick bungy cord for sale ($4). Neil tells me elastic cords are retired after 500 jumps and recycled as chopped sections for souvenirs. My piece of bungy cord certainly makes an excellent curiosity for visitors.