The New Zealand Wharf Jumping Association (NZWJA) is a unified voice for one of the country’s more off-the-wall national pastimes – wharf jumping.
Founded in 2007 by a group of mates who liked jumping off wharves in to water, the not-for-profit incorporated society has members scattered around the world. Most are founding members, simply living overseas.
The association’s assets include two old diving boards, salvaged from community swimming pools after the Canterbury earthquakes, a boom box and a typewriter for taking minutes at its AGM.
Membership is open to anyone, says NZWJA spokesman Reuben Williams. “We don’t mind if you are afraid of heights, or if you are afraid of water.” In fact, during wharf jumping sessions, which are always informal occasions, “it’s not a requirement to actually jump off the wharf,” he says. “You just have to really enjoy yourself.”
The association has produced several issues of Wharf Jumper magazine, featuring opinion pieces, location reviews and instructional articles for difficult techniques.
Activities are not limited to wharves, with bridges, house boats and rope swings popular alternatives, Williams says.
An extreme trick, lauded among long-standing members, involves “holding your ankles behind your back and entering the water face first”, he says. “While conceptually it seems quite simple, it’s actually really hard to do... and very scary.”