## The Origins of Commercial Bungee Jumping

Bungee jumping, an adrenaline-pumping activity involving leaping from a tall structure while attached to an elastic cord, has captivated thrill-seekers for decades. But where and when did this exhilarating sport first emerge as a commercial entity?

### Queenstown, New Zealand: The Birthplace of Commercial Bungee Jumping

The roots of commercial bungee jumping can be traced back to Queenstown, a picturesque town nestled amidst the Southern Alps of New Zealand. In the early 1980s, a group of adventure-seeking locals, led by AJ Hackett and Henry van Asch, began experimenting with BASE jumping (base altitude skydiving) from the Kawarau Gorge suspension bridge.

During one such jump, Hackett’s rope snapped, sending him plummeting into the river below. Miraculously, he survived and emerged with an idea: why not attach a bungee cord to the bridge, providing a safer and more controlled way to experience the thrill of freefall?

### The First Commercial Bungee Jump

On November 12, 1988, Hackett and van Asch organized the world’s first commercial bungee jump from the Kawarau Gorge bridge. Chris Sigglekow, a local adrenaline junkie, took the inaugural leap, plunging 43 meters (141 feet) into the void.

The event garnered immense media attention, igniting a global fascination with bungee jumping. Within a short time, numerous commercial bungee jumping operations sprang up around the world, offering thrill-seekers the chance to experience the unparalleled sensation of freefall.

## Factors Contributing to Queenstown’s Role as the Birthplace

Queenstown’s unique geographical features and adventure-oriented culture played a crucial role in the development of commercial bungee jumping:

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– **Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge:** The bridge’s height and proximity to the river below provided an ideal location for bungee jumping.
– **Adventure Tourism Mecca:** Queenstown was already a well-established adventure tourism destination due to its abundance of skiing, white-water rafting, and hiking opportunities.
– **Risk-Taking Culture:** The local community embraced the spirit of adventure and innovation, fostering an environment where new and daring activities could flourish.
– **Government Support:** The New Zealand government recognized the potential of adventure tourism and provided support for the development of bungee jumping as a regulated industry.

### Evolution of Bungee Jumping

Since its inception in Queenstown, commercial bungee jumping has evolved significantly. Here are some notable milestones:

– **Taller Jumps:** In 1990, Hackett established the world’s first bungee jumping site from the Nevis High Wire, located at a height of 134 meters (440 feet).
– **Tandem Jumps:** The introduction of tandem jumps allowed pairs of people to experience the thrill of bungee jumping together.
– **Bungee Dome:** In 1997, Hackett opened the Bungee Dome in Las Vegas, Nevada, bringing bungee jumping to a controlled indoor environment.
– **Safety Regulations:** Over time, strict safety regulations were implemented to ensure the well-being of participants and operators.
– **Worldwide Popularity:** Today, bungee jumping is practiced in over 50 countries, with numerous sites offering jumps from bridges, towers, and even hot air balloons.

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