Is there anything so adrenaline pumping, so heart thumping, so bucket-list- worthy as bungee jumping? We don’t think so. And where better to do it than where extreme sport was born, New Zealand? Not only does New Zealand have incredible bungee sites (we’re talking breathtaking canyons, cities, bridges, and cliffs), but having invented the sport over 30 years ago, they know how to deliver an epic bungee experience. Still not convinced? Let us help you overcome your fear and jumpstart your New Zealand bungee jumping adventure. Check out our top 7 picks for your first (and maybe best) jump.
Nevis Bungy, Queenstown (Southern Island)
We’re starting out with the highest jump site in the country (and the third highest on the planet) because, yes. At 435 feet up, jumping from Nevis is akin to leaping off a 40-story building. Located in the Nevis Canyon region, there is nothing but brown cliffs, sunshine, and free fall — and we’re talking over eight seconds worth.
Nevis is one of five New Zealand jump sites owned and operated by Alan John (aka A.J.) Hackett, the New Zealand entrepreneur and “father” of the sport. A.J. Hackett did the first few jumps (with specially designed harnesses and bungee cord) back in the late 1980s, including a trial run off the Eiffel Tower in 1987. After perfecting his equipment designs and protocols, Hackett opened up for business.
Nevis has a sort of austere beauty and, given its superior height, gives the experience a sort of mission-like feel. You’re here for the height, the rush, and the bragging rights, and less so for the view. The jump pod itself (the platform from which you jump) is suspended by wire in the middle of the gorge, making the cable car trip out a thrill in itself.
Speaking of thrills, as part of the deal, the A.J. Hackett Bungy Company provides four-wheel-drive bus transportation to the site from Queenstown. We highly recommend this service as the trip takes about two hours and the road gets narrow and gravelly, making it hard to navigate.
The cost per person is about $172, with a minimum age requirement of 13 years old.
Taupô Bungy, Taupô (North Island)
Taupô Bungy is another A.J. Hackett jump site, this one from the cliff tops overlooking the exquisite turquoise waters of the Waikato River. While something of a hike up, the jump platform is firmly attached to the cliff side, so you’re free to incorporate a running start if that’s how you roll.
While you’re still getting a massive jump in from 153 feet up, the dazzling view is half the fun. From the top of the jump, you can see the flow of the river as it snakes along the canyon into the vast Lake Taupô. The view is so beautiful, in fact, why not enjoy it with a friend? At Taupô, you can jump tied to your best mate (aka a “tandem jump”).
You can also do a head dunk, or fully submerge (water levels permitting). A lifeboat at the ready hums close by and shuttles the jumper back to land post-jump. You can also purchase a photo of your leap to show your skeptical friends back home how daring/crazy you are.
Access to the jump site is a breeze by public transport or car with plenty of parking available onsite. The cost per person is about $116, with a minimum age requirement of 10 years old.
Ledge Bungy, Queenstown (South Island)
Ledge Bungy is about the same height as Taupô but is located above Queenstown. The big draw: You can take a flying leap from the top of city’s Skyline Gondola. From there, you will have aerial views of the cityscape, Lake Wakatipu, and the Southern Alps in the far distance. Oh, and you can do it at night for a truly unique New Zealand bungee jumping experience.
Something else to think about: The Ledge uses a body harness around your waist rather than the typical leg harnesses. This means you are free to flip, spin, and re-enact your favorite scenes from “The Matrix” on the way down. The cost per person is about $128, with a minimum age requirement of 10 years old.
Kawarau Bridge Bungy, Queenstown (South Island)
Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge is the world HQ of bungee jumping. As the site of AJ Hackett’s original jump business, Kawarau is always busy. People come here as sort of a pilgrimage and if this is on your list, reserve ahead to ensure you get your jump in.
The scenery is staggeringly beautiful with steep green cliffs flowing down to the aquamarine flows of the Kawarau river. Beyond the usual falls, head and body dunking are also available. And while the jump isn’t the highest (about 140 feet), it may be one of the most fun. Not only can you jump tandem, but clothing is optional.
As with Nevis, AJ Hackett provides bus transportation to the site from Queenstown. The cost per person is about $128 per person, with a minimum age requirement of 10 years old.
Rotorua Bungy, Rotorua (North Island)
Rotorua offers a slight variation on the New Zealand Bungee Jumping theme. Yes, it’s still the real deal, but the jump site is part of the aptly named Velocity Valley Adventure Park. You’re not jumping amidst the majesty of nature; rather, you’re jumping adjacent to the Agrojet (another-velocity-oriented activity) and maybe a snack bar. The jump platform is off a crane cab that picks you up on the ground and hauls you up to the top of the crane. Not terribly Zen, but efficient nonetheless.
There are two reasons to come here: one, hurtling 141 feet to the ground below is still a potent adrenaline cocktail and qualifies as “New Zealand bungee jumping”; two, it costs about half as much to do it here as at other NZ jump sites. For $93, you can have your jump, bragging rights, and some cash left, too.
Auckland Harbour Bridge Bungy, Auckland (North Island)
While the good people of Auckland are speeding along in eight lanes of traffic across the Harbour Bridge, you can be bungee jumping from the steel support structure underneath. Sound fun?
The bridge connects Auckland City Center to the North Shore, and a jump from here includes amazing views of the city (including the space needle-looking Sky Tower) and harbor. By most accounts, the walk to the jump pod is vista-rich and calming, though there is a final leg up a steep flight of metal stairs that may get your heart racing — and that’s before you get that harness on. As with some of the other jump sites, you have the choice of what kind of harness you want to use and whether or not you want a dunk in Shoal Bay, 130 feet below.
As with most of the A.J. Hackett properties, free bus service is available from the Sky Tower to the jump site. The cost is about $103 per person, with a minimum age requirement of 10 years old.
Hanmer Springs Bungy Jump, Hanmer Springs (South Island)
The jump height from the Waiau Ferry Bridge in Hanmer Springs is the lowest of those included here. But there are no “low” bungee jumps in New Zealand, and we’re pretty sure that the 114-foot plunge toward the rushing Waiau River below will pack enough adrenaline to meet your “go big or go home” needs. Not to be outdone by some of the prettier locations we’ve mentioned here, Hanmer Springs happens to be in a stunning mountain setting with plenty to “ooh” and “ahh” about as you hurtle toward the planet at a ridiculously fast rate.
After a successful jump, you will be shuttled back to land by a lifeboat, giving you a chance to catch your breath and consider going for a second jump — or not. Tandem jumps are also available, and the cost is about $106 per person. Photos of your jump are available for purchase.
Above all else, a safe jump should be your top priority. Only go to reputable jump operators, review their procedures carefully, and adhere completely to the safety rules and regs administered by your jump team. This includes disclosing any and all medical conditions and age or weight-related considerations that could impact your jump. Ask how they handle eyeglasses and what clothes and shoes to wear.
Finally — and we can’t underscore this enough — bungee jumping is a high-risk sport. Don’t cut corners by, say, deciding you know how to buckle a harness better than the pros. Also, if you’re uncomfortable with any of the procedures, people, or place, don’t jump. You don’t ever have to jump. Plenty of people get to the jump pod only to decide it’s not the right time. Go with your gut and, when you’re ready, have a blast.