The planet's top 10 bungee jumps

A couple of New Zealand entrepreneurs invented the industry 25 years ago. Could they have imagined such heights?
Written by Mark Halper, Contributor on

First, my disclaimer: I will never ever bungee jump.

Oh, I'm no wuss. I like an adventure and the occasional brush with danger. Geez, I'd even go to the football stadium in Cleveland and cheer loudly for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But I prefer escapades where I'm not trusting my life to a giant rubber band made by goodness knows who possibly on a hungover Monday morning. I spent half-an-hour flailing and dangling 60 feet above terra firma when things went wrong on a zip wire in Montenegro last summer, praying to the carabiner god that the little 2-inch clip would hold on until help arrived. It did.

I'm convinced I would not be as lucky with the boing boing plummet of a bungee jump. Bungee jumping is, after all, an industry invented with inspiration from The Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club as The Guardian newspaper notes in an article commemorating the quarter-century anniversary of the world's first commercial elastic leap off the Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown, New Zealand on Nov. 12, 1988. It was the brainchild of New Zealander AJ Hackett and his partners.

But many of you intrepid SmartPlanet readers probably feel differently. I suspect that a lot of you are the "work hard, play hard" type for whom a stretchy death-defying plunge sounds like fun -- or at least you say it does.

So let's jump right into the point of this story: If you want to know where the planet's Top 10 bungee sites are, then cruise on over to The Guardian's story. It's full of videos from around the world that will literally take your breath away - and virtually your feet and ankles too - as you watch your fellow daredevils fly in New Zealand, Zambia, Nepal, Switzerland, Austria and Costa Rica.

As you ricochet from one clip to the other, remember the fate of 22-year-old Australian Erin Langworthy, whose cord snapped on a 420-foot bungee dive, sending her into Zimbabwe's crocodile-invested Zambezi River near Victoria Falls two years ago. See her whole ordeal in the video below (she survived).

For those of you curious about the source of creative business ideas: Bungee and adventure tourism business pioneer AJ Hackett (he shuns the spelling "bungee" and uses "bungy")  didn't just take his cue from the Dangerous Sports Club. His other muse, according to Australia's Herald Sun: The ritualistic vine jumpers of Vanuatu, the South Pacific island nation. But even they haven't always fared well in the fun either. One jumper lost his life performing for Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in 1974.

Meanwhile, Go Steelers - wherever you're playing, take chances. Unlike with the bungee fanatics, you can always bounce back if a play doesn't work out.

Crocodiles and rapids and rocks, oh my:

Photo is from AJ Hackett Bungy NZ. Video is from Michael Steinmetz via YouTube

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