331 Days on the Road
Waking up to the sound of pitter-pattering of rain on the roof among the sound of native birds is a different kind of paradise to the one were expecting on Waiheke Island, but we kind of like it. Our accommodation, Hekerua Lodge, is nestled in forest, and with lots of undercover outdoor lounging areas, there are plenty of places to enjoy it – even on a rainy day. We’re stoked to be spending more time in this forest today and seeing it from a whole new angle by ziplining above it!
Thanks to one of the long-term hostel-dwellers who has a car on the island, we get dropped off at EcoZip Adventures, situated right on top of Trig Hill giving an awesome vantage point of Waiheke Island. We walk through a luxurious courtyard area and check in with the necessary waiver form to sign, as well as having ourselves weighed. Luckily, we are not too fat to do the ziplines, or as Kiwis call them, “flying fox”.
We are gathered with our group into a room with harnesses and helmets (and optional raincoats) all set up on the floor waiting for us. Our two guides, Becs and Gabby, help us get into our strap-happy harnesses, using Laura as a demonstrating model. Then the next thing we know, we are harnessed, helmeted and hungry for ziplines!
Ziplining two at a time!
There are three ziplines in total, going to lengths of more than 200m, zigzagging their way down the valley. We stand on the platform of Zipline One, say goodbye to Becs, who is going to “catch us” at the end, and get a quick zipping lesson from Gabby. There’s not much we need to do other than enjoy the ride and try not to kick Becs who is waiting at the bottom… Easy, right? Otherwise, the zipline is hands-free so you can pull as many shapes as possible in a harness. What’s more, there are two ziplines, meaning two people can go at a time! Fun and efficient; we like it!
After watching the first couple of friends to zip into the beyond, it’s our turn! Gabby clips our harness to a line on the platform and then to zipline itself, so we are always attached to something – safety first! Then she does the countdown… Robin and Laura look into each other with a glimmer of excitement in our eyes.
“3… 2… 1… Go!”
We push off with our legs for some extra speed, the wind and rain trying to slow us down, but gravity does its thing! We woosh over the perfectly parallel patterns of a vineyard – an iconic Waiheke landscape – then have fun with getting ourselves to spin and watch each other zipping.
When we get to the bottom, we do the first thing right by not kicking Becs in the face as she hands a rope to us to hold onto. Then she brings one of us a ladder while the other one hangs like a monkey, and detaches us, one at a time, from the zipline. After watching the rest of the group zip down, we move onto the Zipline Two!
Pulling all sorts of shapes over the Waiheke Vineyards
Zipline two: flying over the forest
A quick walk through the bush brings us to Zipline Two – a longer zipline actually hanging above the forest canopy. With the wind really hitting the lines square in the face, the lighter people in the group, including Laura, need to do some bombing action to gather speed and momentum. Although some views are emerging in the distance of the Hauraki Gulf – the body of water and islands surround Waiheke – we are encouraged to look down at this unique perspective of the forest canopy. We feel like a coupe of tui birds gliding above the forest (but probably look more like wood pigeons).
The finale: Kurinui
Becs holds out a pole for fish for Laura who doesn’t quite make it to the end of zipline by a few inches, then we are getting unharnessed, and off to the third and final zipline named “Kurinui”. The reason behind the name is revealed when we arrive at the longest zipline of them all.
Not only is this one giving you another awesome perspective over the forest, but through the rainclouds we can just make out the skyline of Auckland City sitting some 25km in the distance across the Hauraki Gulf. It’s a lot to take in while your soaring through the air!
So we have arrived at the bottom of three huge ziplines… But how are we going to get back up again?
An eco-tour through the forest
The EcoZip team takes us on a stunning bushwalk through a mix of young and old native forest. The forest is super vibrant with the raindrops glistening on fern branches and leaves. Not only that, but the forest is complex with vines hanging from above and wrapping around each other, mushrooms swell with their recent feeding of fresh water, and nikau palm trees look weirdly out of place between giant trunky trees called kahikatea – the tallest trees in New Zealand. Our guides tell us the history of the forest here on Waiheke Island, as well as the threats the forest faces today. We learn heaps about the fascinating flora and fauna of the place, our eyes opened to just how amazing the New Zealand native bush is!
Quick tourist pic
As we emerge from the bush, it’s a short climb back to the EcoZip Adventures base. A huge golden photo frame overlooks the awesome views from the top, so although it’s a bit cloudy over, we take the obligatory tourist pic anyway! It has to be done.
Pizza night at Hekerua Lodge
We get unharnessed and say goodbye to our guide, Gabby. Now Becs gives us a complimentary lift back to Hekerua Lodge where tonight is pizza night! Anyone who wants to join puts in $5 for what feels like endless amounts of homemade pizzas made by the WWOOFers. It’s a great way for everyone to get together! Hekerua Lodge is all about keeping it social.
Join us tomorrow for more adventures on Waiheke Island!
Exploring the wild forests of Waiheke Island Theta 360 Loading...
Have you read yesterday’s post about winery hopping around Waiheke Island? How about these articles?
- Waiheke Island – Guide for Backpackers
- 10 Islands in New Zealand Every Backpacker Has to Explore
- 10 Ways to Protect New Zealand’s Forests
See you tomorrow!