Catapult attraction launched at speed

Daredevils got the chance to be catapulted at high speed across the Nevis Valley at the launch of a new attraction near Gibbston yesterday.

AJ Hackett Bungy's Nevis Catapult is the latest addition to the company's portfolio of adrenaline-inducing experiences, allowing guests to fly through the air on a winch system and reach speeds of almost 100kmh in just 1.5 seconds.

The ride propelled users 150m out across the ravine, before they dropped towards the valley floor and were winched back to the launch platform 134m above ground.

Company co-founder Henry van Asch said the world-first ride gave users a ''pretty unique feeling, surprising even''.

''It's a massive rush of acceleration and it's like when you get going you just fling out into space there. There's nothing else quite like it.''

A guest experiences AJ Hackett Bungy's new Nevis Catapult. Photo: Supplied
A guest experiences AJ Hackett Bungy's new Nevis Catapult. Photo: Supplied

Mr van Asch was the first to feel up to 3Gs of force on the ride yesterday, followed by two competition winners and a nervous Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker.

Competition winner Chantelle Polley (38), of Sydney, was one of the first two members of the public to experience the ride.

She said it was ''exhilarating'' and that visitors to the area ''have to come and do it''.

''I feel so privileged. I cannot believe I got the chance to do this first.''

Mr Walker said he did not sleep well the night before the jump, as his biggest fear was heights.

''Words can't describe it. I actually shut my eyes for a bit and then it felt like I was having a heart attack.''

The multimillion-dollar Catapult, which has been installed alongside the already infamous Nevis Swing, was the product of three decades of planning and development by van Asch and his team at AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand.

The project was first dreamt up by Mr van Asch during a trip around France in the 1980s with the company's other founder, AJ Hackett.

The project was partly funded by a $500,000 Government grant - received through the Government's Tourism Growth Partnership fund - which helped cover some of the Catapult's development costs.

A ride costs $255, or $225 for a student.


For a jaded public: anything to court death.