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Queenstown celebrates with pioneers of adventure tourism

November 12, 2013 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

Queenstown’s adventure tourism industry will celebrate tomorrow(Tuesday 12 November) as AJ Hackett, the world’s first commercial bungy operator, reaches a milestone 25 years in business.

Bungy founders AJ Hackett and Henry Van Asch will commemorate the achievement with a day of birthday celebrations at the Kawarau Bridge Bungy Centre, the original site of bungy.

The Kawarau Bridge Bungy landscape – photo credit AJ Hackett Bungy

It has been a year of milestones for adventure tourism in the region with Dart River Jet who also celebrated 25 years in September.

Destination Queenstown CEO, Graham Budd, said Queenstown has always been a magnet for adventurers and entrepreneurs.

“Henry and AJ were game changers for adventure activities and for Queenstown. Their concept captivated the world’s attention and really put Queenstown on the map. Bungy turned into an international phenomenon overnight and now, 25 years later, is considered one of the most unique and iconic adventure activities in the world.

“As pioneers of adventure tourism Henry and AJ helped shape the future of Queenstown as a must-visit adventure destination. The wave of interest bungy jumping created paved the way for a host of other like-minded individuals to set up business here and together they’ve forged Queenstown’s enduring reputation as the home of adventure.”

Queenstown’s first real taste of adventure tourism came with the establishment of commercial jet boating in1960 when the Kawarau Jet was established.

White water rafting followed quickly on the heels of the success of jet boating with Kon Tiki Raft trips, now known as Queenstown Rafting, starting New Zealand’s first commercial rafting in 1974.

Tandem Paragliding was pioneered in Queenstown by the late Bruce Grant and has become so popular that now it’s an iconic sight to see dozens of canopies a day floating off Bob’s Peak into downtown Queenstown.

NZONE Skydive became New Zealand’s first operator to commence commercial tandem skydiving in 1990and the first to introduce freefall photography.

Other innovators and entrepreneurs have followed in the wake of these early pioneers and Queenstown now offers a huge range of adventures from river surfing, parasailing and canyoning to abseiling, ziplining, 4-wheel driving.

TripAdvisor voted Queenstown ‘No. 1 Outdoor and Adventure Destination in the World’ in the annual Travellers Choice Awards, as well as coming 15th overall in the ‘Top 25 Destinations in the World’ in 2010. In 2012, Lonely Planet selected New Zealand’s Southern Lakes region as one of the world’s Top 10 Regions to visit.

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