Learn about how the business was started, the vision of a fun and environmentally educational zipline experience, and the addition of another location in Kaikoura.
The vision of EcoZip
Chris Hollister and Gavin Oliver are the founders of EcoZip Adventures––the award-winning, Waiheke Island-based adventure and eco-tourism company that takes people on an unforgettable zipline ride and guided tour through an ancient forest.
How did it all start? Chris and Gavin met through a mutual friend and they bonded over their shared passion for the outdoors. They connected over the fact that one of the main reasons they both moved to New Zealand (from their native US and England) was their love of hiking, the outdoors and tourism; the country is not lacking in any of those departments.
Talking over beers one evening, they realized New Zealand is, however, lacking in ziplines and that the scenic Waiheke Island has a particularly beautiful location that could be the ideal launching point. They envisioned a zipline on top of Waiheke’s Trig Hill where zippers could look out at the breathtaking views of a sparkling sea, rolling green hills, dense forest, Auckland’s skyline in the distance, and a working vineyard.
Before EcoZip opened in 2012, years of research went into building the perfect zipline experience. Chris and Gavin travelled to Alaska, Las Vegas, Costa Rica, California, and beyond to experience ziplines and create their own unique experience that combined the latest technology and best practices. Chris and Gavin were focused on designing zipline technology that would not only be the safest but also create the most fun experience, which is why they opted for the dual-cable zipline. The dual cable transforms a usually solo experience into a social one –you can laugh with your friend as you glide through gorgeous scenery. Plus, Gavin and Chris didn’t want the fun to end too abruptly, so they chose to build three ziplines increasing in steepness and speed to make each ride a little more exciting than the last.
In addition to ziplines, Chris and his wife Helen have a passion for wine and are the owners of the vineyard you’ll fly high above as you zip. The vineyard is called Eventide and it produces delectable Syrah that is bright, refreshing and fruit-forward. No trip to Waiheke is complete without tasting its world-renowned wine, especially its Syrah, so Chris and Helen were excited to make it part of the EcoZip experience.
After you zip, you’ll have an opportunity to buy a bottle to take home and enjoy after a day well-spent zipping and walking through the bush.
The importance of ecological education
The founders were also interested in the idea of educating visitors on environmental stewardship. After riders fly through the sky, they go on an easy-going guided walk through native New Zealand bush and learn about the historic and ecological significance of the location.
When Chris and Gavin first toured the Trig Hill site, they were astounded to learn how, as you walk through this Site of Environmental Significance, you can see how the land was transformed during Maori then European settlement. It feels like time travelling into a distant past when you’re in the ancient forest. Then you are suddenly brought back to present-day with the guide explaining how the ziplines were built to conserve the ecological balance of the site and how the land is currently maintained by EcoZip.
The guide also explains what creatures can be found in this forest––you might just catch a glimpse of a weta, skink, or glow-worm. As you walk, you’ll be entranced by the golden light filtering through the dense forest canopy above and by the songs of the birds unique to New Zealand such as the piwakawaka and keruru as well as the magical tweats and clicks of the tui echoing throughout the forest.
New Kaikoura site
Chris and Gavin have very recently announced exciting news that they’re opening another EcoZip Adventures location in Kaikoura in October 2020. Five years ago, Chris and Gavin knew that they loved the idea of opening a location in Kaikoura, a top tourist destination known for its uniquely stunning views of the Seaward Kaikoura Mountain Range jutting straight out of a bright, blue ocean.
After pursuing several sites over the past few years, they finally found and secured their dream location: an 11,000-hectare piece of private land just 9km south of Kaikoura. The partners are thrilled to replicate the EcoZip experience in yet another spectacular and environmentally significant part of New Zealand.
“Kaikoura has established a well-deserved reputation as New Zealand’s premier sustainable and environmental tourism hub. As a conservation focused product, we believe EcoZip will be a natural fit,” Gavin recently told Tourism Ticker.
Like the Waiheke location, ecological stewardship will be a defining feature of the new site with a native tree planting program that will rehabilitate former farmland as well as aid in pest eradication.
They plan to build multiple ziplines that are cumulatively more than 2km in length. Again, like the Waiheke site, a guided walk through a native forest will be part of the experience. They also intend to transport guests to and from the zipline in specialist 4×4 vehicles that will take scenic routes.
EcoZip’s new Kaikoura site proves that, yet again, this company is a leader in taking not only the zipline industry but also the tourism industry in general to new heights. Chris and Gavin are so glad they took the initial leap with EcoZip and are excited for what’s to come––it’s already been an incredible ride!