‘Thrilling’ Catapult launched

MP Hamish Walker and AJ Hackett co-founder Henry van Asch prepare to take the plunge

A thrilling new multi-million dollar adventure tourism attraction that catapults punters across a ravine at 100km in just 1.5 seconds has launched near Queenstown.

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

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

The official opening brings to fruition three decades of planning and development, van Asch said.

“It’s hugely exciting to be here today, revealing the Catapult to the world, following years of playing around with the idea.”

Van Asch and Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker were the first to test out the Catapult this morning.

“It’s a pretty unique feeling, surprising even. There’s nothing else quite like it,” van Asch said.

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

Van Asch said 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.”

Van Asch said it was significant to be unveiling 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.

“It’s a unique and unusual experience, far more sophisticated than the ropes and pullies AJ and I used 30 years ago, but no less fun.”

Specialist new technology for the multi-million-dollar Catapult, partly funded by a $500,000 Government grant, 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.

Van Asch said the attraction was a “multi-million dollar project”.

Testing was 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.

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

The world’s first commercial bungy jump operation was established at the Kawarau Bridge in 1988.