Bungy pioneers to mark 25th – and mourn stalwart

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A tightknit Queenstown adventure tourism firm has a heavy heart on the eve of its 25th birthday – when it will also mark the untimely death of a company stalwart.

AJ Hackett Bungy group logistics manager and local family man Tony Middendorf, 49, passed away last Saturday when his motorcycle collided with a van on the Crown Range Road.

AJ Hackett Bungy co-founder Henry van Asch says Tony was above all else a dedicated family man to wife Judith and daughters Charlotte, 21, Korrie, 18, and Whitney, 15: “He’s very much a family man with a great family life and beautiful children and was very dedicated to them.

“That bled through into his work life where bungy was another extension of his family,” Van Asch says.

The company has postponed a staff-only party scheduled for tomorrow (Friday) to celebrate the 25th – and is instead helping with plans for Tony’s funeral at Lake Hayes Pavilion from 2pm, tomorrow (Friday).

A separate official 25th bungy birthday function this Tuesday will go ahead but with a special tribute to the popular staffer.

Tony, who started as a boat operator at the Skippers Canyon bungy before rising to management, would have marked 20 years with the company in February.

Van Asch says only a handful have been with the business as long: “He was such a friendly guy, even people who’ve only been working here a few weeks or couple of months are really upset, they’re saying he’s just so friendly, always talks to you, so approachable.”

Tony’s sister Kim Currie says locals have been incredibly supportive of the family: “Some people mouth off about Queenstown and how it’s all tourism and business but there is a real community in there, real heart and it’s really come out.”