New Zealand unveils world-first catapult experience

AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand co-founder Henry van Asch has revealed a world-first adventure tourism experience the “Nevis Catapult” in the Nevis Valley near Queenstown, New Zealand.

The Catapult sees thrill seekers experience up to 3G of force and speeds of almost 100km per hour in 1.5 seconds, as they are propelled 150m out across a ravine before dropping towards the valley floor and experiencing a series of vertical bounces.

The opening of this experience brings to fruition three decades of planning and development by Mr van Asch and the AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand team.

Mr van Asch officially opened the Catapult experience by literally being launched across the Nevis Valley.

“It’s a pretty unique feeling, surprising even. There’s nothing else quite like it,” he says.

Housed in a pod and between a series of cables, alongside the infamous Nevis Swing, the Catapult is a unique combination of height, flight and speed using a bespoke high-speed winch system developed over years of research.

To showcase the Catapult’s much-anticipated opening, AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand partnered with GoPro to send Australian advocates Sam Evans and Kurt Tilse to Queenstown as the first content creators to experience the new attraction.

Carlos McCarthy, GoPro Marketing Manager ANZ said, “With New Zealand known as the adventure capital of the World, it’s the perfect playground for GoPro. AJ Hackett is also synonymous with being the first to push the boundaries and so felt like a natural partnership. We were stoked to send two of our best content creators out there to help showcase this ground-breaking new experience.”

Mr van Asch says he first came up with the idea when travelling around France during the 1980s with friend and (later) Bungy co-founder, AJ Hackett.

“I played around with the idea by riding my mountain bike with a Bungy cord attached, off bridges. It may have been legal,” he says.

Mr van Asch says it’s significant to unveil the new experience in the company’s 30th year.

“In 1988 we took Bungy to the world and put New Zealand on the world adventure tourism map. Thirty years on it’s wonderful to still be pushing the boundaries globally.”

Specialist new technology for the multi-million-dollar Catapult was developed with the company’s research team before being built in an accredited testing facility in Christchurch and then brought to site for full scale installation, testing and commissioning. Testing has been conducted out-of-sight over the past nine months – beginning with weighted barrels, before moving on to a test dummy phase and finally human testing.

“AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand is the epitome of the Kiwi entrepreneurial spirit and their investment in cutting edge technology and new thrills is an example of how New Zealand continues to be at the forefront of adventure tourism,” says Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive, Stephen England-Hall.

“This could never have been accomplished without a combination of daring creativity, sheer Kiwi spirit, and of course investment in years of design engineering and testing.”

The Catapult was developed to internationally recognised global safety standards and is regulated under New Zealand adventure tourism and amusement device standards.

Mr England-Hall believes the Nevis Catapult will inspire thrill seekers from all over the world to visit Queenstown to push their limits further than they have ever been able to.”

The world’s first commercial bungy jump operation was established near Queenstown at the Kawarau Bridge, the ‘original home of Bungy’ in 1988. The company – which now offers ziprides, swings, a bridge climb, tower walk and bungy experiences at five sites in Queenstown and Auckland – is set to reach one million jumps from the Kawarau Bridge Bungy Centre next month (September 2018).

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