Bulletproof: Jezza

A canyoning accident in Switzerland left Jezza Williams a tetraplegic. An adventurer at heart, just two years later he started up his own inclusive adventure tourism business.

Outdoor action and adventure junkie, Jezza Williams has always pushed his limits, seeking out his maximum capacity. Working as a canyoning instructor in Switzerland during 2010, he slipped on a rock during a routine descent and broke his neck, but nothing, not even quadriplegia could have stopped him.

“The body works its wonders and I’m still here and rockin” he says. 

Born and raised in the South Island with New Zealand’s adventure playground as his back yard, he has always been out seeking adventure, “I got an addiction for pushing my limits and my limits were right there on my doorstep.”

Jezza’s mum Marion says he was always destined to be an outdoors kind of man, “he was just a very out there kid, he was born face-up as if to say, “hello world what have you got for me?”

"The body works its wonders and I'm still here and rockin"

After finishing high school, Jezza had no plan so he did an outdoor recreation course, which opened his eyes to the possibilities of the world.

Taking full advantage of those possibilities, he headed to Switzerland, working for ‘Swiss adventure’ for five years. Loving his adventures so much, he returned at 33 to ‘the canyoning scene’ as an instructor, but such are the risks of adventure sport, one wrong step can have a permanent effect.

“adventure is the most awesomest thing anyone can do. It’s the only time in life where you can go and do something without planning or knowing what’s going to happen.”

“It was just another day at work,” says Jezza, “I just rocked up to that jump as you do every day, instead of doing what I was supposed to do I just slipped. Didn’t quite get the distance I wanted and hit my head on a rock on the way down, I knew what had happened and I accepted it right there and then, bugger!”

The resulting stay in hospital proved it would be a long recovery. But the determination of a mind like Jezza’s is a powerful device and convinced himself he just needed to find new ways to keep life as exciting as possible.

Jezza pushing his wheelchair at his house outside.
Jezza has started his own Adventure Tourism business with a focus on accessibility.

After returning to New Zealand, Jezza bought a house and set about re-making his life with his new level of abilities. He is motivated to continue pushing his limits, “If I go for a day without achieving one small thing then it frustrates me, I always have to achieve one small thing.”

Jezza still thrives off getting outdoors, “adventure is the most awesomest thing anyone can do. It’s the only time in life where you can go and do something without planning or knowing what’s going to happen.”

From his own interests in the outdoor world he created ‘Making Trax,’ a business which seeks to create opportunities for people with different abilities to go on adventures.  

Jezza in a conference call.
Jezzas' own passion for adventure sport has inspired him to make it available to disabled people too.

They look at outdoor companies and their products and see what they can do “through adaptation, cooperation and training,” to create inclusive tourism ventures.

His ultimate goal is to, “get all the adventure companies to come to the party, cause if this body can do it any body can do it.”

Thinking of his own abilities he says, “of course I’ve got a disability, but I’m not disabled I’m really abled, I can do a lot of stuff, about five years ago I went on a tandem paraglide in Queenstown.”

Jezza in a hanglider about to fly of a steep cliff.
Jezza is one of the only certified quadriplegic handgliders in the world.

Since then, five years of careful planning later Jezza got a specialised buggy made to let him paraglide whenever he wanted to, “I’m the only licensed quadrepleigc paraglider in New Zealand.”

The glider has been adjusted so he can steer it with his arms, “all I’m doing is feeling the glider and pulling it down with my shoulders.”

Jezza has a positive outlook on life and does not let his abilities hold him back; “I think anybody that has an ability like mine is limited by imagination, it’s all about perspective, it’s all about using exactly what you’ve got to run to the best you possibly can.”

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