Boult bungies as businesses bounce back

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult celebrated the reopening of the district's tourism industry today with a dawn bungy jump from AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand's Kawarau bridge.

Mr Boult and AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand co-founder Henry van Asch were among the first jumpers this morning as New Zealand moved into Alert Level 2 and the bungy site reopened after seven weeks of lockdown.

The mayor said it was "wonderful" to see so many businesses in the area reopening.

"Though these are tough times for all businesses  across the district, we’re embracing Alert Level 2 and the cautious reopening that it is allowing.

"We are still the country’s premier visitor destination, with a recent poll showing Queenstown as the number one tourist destination for New Zealanders, closely followed by Wānaka at number five.

"That enthusiasm for local travel will bring a much-needed boost to our local economy and the thousands of locals that will benefit from the return to work this will deliver.

"I look forward to welcoming visitors to our district from across the country.”

Mr van Asch said he was "realistic" about the "long, tough, road ahead".

"But, we thought it was important to mark the occasion with, literally, a big leap forward."

The Kawarau site is the first of two Queenstown sites to reopen under Level 2 - The Ledge will open on Saturday, timed with the official reopening of Skyline's Gondola.

Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult does a bungy jump above the Kawarau River this morning. Photo: Supplied
Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult does a bungy jump above the Kawarau River this morning. Photo: Supplied

The Auckland Harbour Bridge and Sky Tower in Auckland and Taupo Bungy are also reopening today.

“Getting a few of our sites open today is a big boost for everyone. We’ve been operating Bungy for more than 30 years – some 11,800 days on site – and these past 50 days of lockdown has been the only time, apart from Christmas, that we’ve closed since 1988.

“With no clear idea of when the international market might return, we still have a long way to go as we work towards long-term sustainability for our business and re-sizing is inevitable.

"But we’re thinking and looking forward to what Bungy and Queenstown can be into the future.”

Mr van Asch says the pandemic, while catastrophic for New Zealand tourism, provides an opportunity to rethink tourism.

“There’s been a feeling that we’ve had too many visitors to New Zealand for some time, so it’s important we make the most of the opportunity to re-create tourism – and look towards an industry that not only contributes to our economy but makes New Zealand a better place for all New Zealanders.”

Bungy is also offering, for a "short time" $88 jumps to thank New Zealanders for helping bring Covid-19 under control.

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