Kia Ora! Jordie here, Jonnie and I were chatting about where we had been in Auckland and where we should go next. I found out a surprising fact about Jonnie, HE HAD NEVER BEEN TO ANY OF AUCKLAND’S ISLANDS. Not Waiheke, not Rangitoto, not Motutapu, not Little or Great Barrier. I was amazed, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. People are always wanting to go on holiday away from where they live (I know I do). Its often easy to forget what is right in front of you. After hearing this revelation I was determined to get him out to the islands so I planned a day trip to Auckland’s most well known island, Waiheke.
Waiheke is home to around 8000 people in the winter but most of the homes on Waiheke are holiday homes so in the summer it can get up to 30,000 residents. That means there’s heaps of awesome summer orientated activities to do on the island and its only a 30-40min ride on the ferry from downtown Auckland so it’s a popular destination for both kiwi’s and tourists.
The island is well known for its prime climate for vineyards and 5-star wineries, which are perfect for a summer’s day drinking rosé in the sun or a cold winters afternoon with an excellent merlot and a hearty meal. However, as much as Jonnie and I love our food, we were looking for something a little more adventurous after been cooped up studying for exams. We decided to spend the day flying over the beautiful native bush, with EcoZip adventures.
EcoZip is a ziplining company that has three vastly different ziplines that do a great job showing off all Waiheke Island has to offer. The first zipline takes off from the EcoZip base camp and travels over their very own vineyard. This ride was the most sedate of the three and offered a great view of Waiheke and the surrounding Gulf Harbour. Unfortunately there wasn’t a glass of syrrah waiting for us at the end, but our guide assured us that in the near future EcoZip will be offering a Zip’n Sip deal that I can guarantee Jonnie and I definitely be there to try.
The second zipline does a excellent job at showing off Waiheke’s other great natural asset – its native bush. This zipline steps up the speed, height and length. However, none of that really registered as this zipline got us up close and personal with the native bush. As you come zipping in to the end of the line the tops of the trees are only a few metres below you.
After vineyards, scenic ocean views and beautiful natural bush you might be wondering what more Waiheke could have to offer. The third zipline, Kurinui, is about one thing: SPEED! This zipline is the longest of the three and also has the steepest gradient allowing you to reach speeds in excess of 50km/h. If you have an obsession with flying (like me) then you’ll love this one. It truly feels like you are soaring over the treetops. Jonnie and I raced down this one. The guide recommended we tuck ourselves into tight little balls to go even faster. This was by far my favourite zipline (and it has nothing to with me winning the race). If speed isn’t your thing there is still more amazing scenery to take in. In the blur I managed to make out some golden sand beaches and a few other vineyards in addition to the native bush.
If there is one thing that Jonnie and I took out from our experience at the World’s Biggest Waterslide (read about it here) is that an awesome trip down means at the end awaits a walk back to the top. We were prepared for the walk. What we weren’t prepared for was an inspiring guided tour back to the top through what felt like a greatest hits of New Zealand native bush.
I grew up with a bush on my family’s farm so I’ve always loved the bush and held a great respect for it. This part of the experience definitely made the Eco in EcoZip. They are doing a lot of incredible work restoring the bush around the ziplines. On our walk back we saw everything from Swinging Jack, which I grew up swinging on like Tarzan, to an amazing cathedral of Nikau Palms.
My favourite tree in particular was known as the Mother of the Forest and she is a Puriri tree. She’s actually a celebrity. She is the tree that inspired James Cameron for the Mother Tree in the movie Avatar and I can definitely see the resemblance. However that’s not the reason she is the Mother of the Forest, she is also home to a lot of flora and fauna in the forest. Particularly the Puriri Moth (Ghost Moth) which lives inside the tree for its whole life except for one day where it climbs out of its burrow in the trunk to play the multiplication game with other like moths.
Before you are allowed to leave the walking trail and return to one of Waiheke’s fine wineries for a good meal and a chance to reminisce about your experience there is one final challenge. The Chief of the Forest stands in your way. Thankfully, this chief a beautiful big red totara tree only requires a hug to get past. Currently the Chief is quite small given the tree he will grow into, but he is still too big to get your arms all the way around. Jonnie was only millimeters off.
We aren’t so good at formatting sometimes
- Go with people you know in a group of 2 or more. Each zip line has 2 lines so it’s a lot more enjoyable if you can go down with a friend.
- If you have a GoPro or a phone/camera that you want to use during the zipline then bring a wrist strap with you so you’ll be allowed, you can also purchase them from the shop at base camp.
- We hired a GoPro for $40 which includes the photos they took of us. If you don’t have your own GoPro with a wrist strap then we would recommend you hire it. It captures all of the breathtaking scenery and you and your friend going down.
- If you don’t have a wrist strap, take your camera and keep it in your pocket. Trust me, you will want to take photos of the beautiful bush walk after the ziplining.
- Bring a jacket. Even if its a scorching day, it can get very windy and cold at the top of the hill where they do the safety briefing.
- Plan to have a whole day on Waiheke. You would be doing yourself a disservice to not spend an afternoon after ziplining in a winery or exploring some of the amazing art galleries in Oneroa Village.
Overall this was an absolutely amazing experience, the staff were incredibly welcoming and funny, the Zip lining blew my expectations. It’s a perfect representation of the kiwi culture and what New Zealand is all about, having a blast and looking after nature whilst doing it.
Check out this video from the GoPro we had and get inspired.