In November 1986, Hackett, along with Sigglekow,
performed his first amateur bungy jump from the Upper Harbour
Bridge (Greenhithe Bridge) in Auckland, citing it as "one
of the most riveting experiences of my life." Following
this Hackett made jumps from a bridge in Hamilton, the Auckland
Harbour Bridge and other bridges in the North Island. These
first jumps were made using a parachute harness, however, Hackett
created a method where the harness was tied to the ankle and
demonstrated its use by jumping off the Auckland Harbour Bridge
a second time.
Hackett travelled to Paris in 1986 as part of
the New Zealand Speed Skiing Team. While there he jumped off
the 147m Pont de la Caille and a cable car at the Tignes ski
resort in Paris. He made what became a famous bungy jump off
the Eiffel Tower in Paris on 26 June 1987, getting briefly jailed
for that illegal feat and generating international attention
to the sport.
Back in New Zealand, Hackett launched his own
company, AJ Hackett Bungy, and created a site on the Kawarau
Gorge Suspension Bridge in Queenstown, New Zealand in 1988 to
become the world's first commercial public bungy. He later expanded
his company by founding bungy sites in Australia, France (Souleuvre
Viaduct in Normandy), Germany, The United States, Mexico, Indonesia,
and Macau. He is credited with launching New Zealand's adventure
tourism industry and helping to develop a safe code of operation
for bungy jumping in use internationally.
Hackett initially partnered with Henry van Asch, but the two
split in 1997 with van Asch taking over the New Zealand-based
business. In 2008 the pair reunited – and currently work
together on the AJ Hackett business.