Many of you may know the Kawarau Suspension Bridge as a destination for those keen to push their limits, bungy jumping 43 metres into the gorge below. What you may not know is that this historic bridge has been pushing its own limits since 1880!
Engineer Harry Higginson introduced a daring new bridge design in 1880 to cross the sheer rocky gorge with its notorious destructive winds. Through his innovative strengthening solutions, Higginson provided a 120m long safe passage, towering 43 metres above the Kawarau river.
A century later in 1988, the Kawarau Suspension Bridge became the world’s birthplace of bungy tourism, where co-founders A. J. Hackett and Henry van Asch began the world’s first commercial bungy jumping venture. Today Higginson’s design is still proving enduring as visitors travel from far afield to take a leap of faith, trusting in the engineering abilities of an elastic band.
So what better way to celebrate the Kawarau Suspension Bridge’s new Landmarks Whenua Tohunga status, than by bungy jumping off it dressed in 19th century costume to mark the occasion!
Not far away is another new Landmarkin Arrowtown. Historic Arrowtown is a golden village that tells two tales of the mid-1800s gold rush. The historic cottages and buildings of the Buckingham Street precinct tell the stories of the wealthy bankers and merchants who prospered from the gold rush. But right next door at the Chinese Settlement, you can step back into the mid-1800s and see up-close the modest and testing living conditions of the Chinese miners.
The 12 Otago Landmark Whenua Tohunga sites have been chosen because of the stories they bring to life of Aotearoa’s past and the way they connect New Zealanders and visitors to the people and places that define our country.
Take a look at the Landmarks Whenua Tohunga sites around New Zealand. The programme is a joint initiative between the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, DOC and Heritage New Zealand.