Waiheke: Free trips offered to New Zealand’s wine island


Fancy a free return trip to Waiheke Island?

The island’s zip line company is so keen for customers, it’s willing to pay your $42 return ferry trip to the island if you book in for a zip tour.

EcoZip is found in the heart of the island, on lush fertile hills where vineyards meet dense bush.

You’ll enjoy stunning views on the three zip lines.

Brook Sabin/Stuff-co-nz

You’ll enjoy stunning views on the three zip lines.

You’ll be picked up from Waiheke’s main dock – after a 35- minute ferry trip from Auckland – then board a minibus for a little tour of the island. Eventually, you’ll reach the zip base perched on one of the island’s higher hills, with stunning panoramas of the Hauraki Gulf.

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From there, you’re suited up – with a $1000 of safety gear – before tackling the course.

I’m going to stop right there – I need to ask you one question: have you gained more than two tonnes during lockdown? The reason I ask is EcoZip is by far the most safety-conscious zip line operation I’ve ever come across. And their lanyards, which connect you to the wire, are tested for up to two tonnes. So, you can even take your pet elephant down with you. If it breaks, there’s a back system.

So, like me, please do not fret about those lockdown kilos you may be acquainted with – they don’t matter.

The ferry from Auckland is a quick 35-40 minute trip.

Brook Sabin/Stuff-co-nz

The ferry from Auckland is a quick 35-40 minute trip.

Having experienced a few questionable zip lines in the Pacific, Asia and Africa, it’s reassuring to see EcoZip has redundancy for everything.

And what about braking? Overseas, I’ve had to slow myself down with gloves on the wire, accidentally burning my hands. But at EcoZip, you’ll have an automated brake system that slows you down. And it has three redundancies.

Now that we’ve established you’re in safe hands, let’s sit back and enjoy the ride.

There are three zip lines along the course, all more than 200 metres. The first is known as the Zipline Cruise, soaring above almost 2000 vines of Syrah. You’ll be racing down a twin zip line, meaning you can try and beat your fellow racer. That’s where those lockdown kilos come in handy.

There is no age limit, but participants under 18-years of age must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Brook Sabin/Stuff-co-nz

There is no age limit, but participants under 18-years of age must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Next is the City View, and it’s a lot steeper and faster than the first. You’ll start by flying through the trees, before soaring above the canopy – with sweeping views of the wider city. Like me, however, you may just concentrate on making your body as aerodynamic as possible to race your opponent.

The last course is the steepest, known as Kurinui, with views across the city, vineyards and even down to the distant beaches. You’ll reach more than 50 kilometres an hour, meaning you could be the fastest thing on Waiheke – the speed limit on the roads is just 50 km/h.

You’ll be able to visit iconic wineries like Mudbrick.

Brook Sabin/Stuff-co-nz

You’ll be able to visit iconic wineries like Mudbrick.

At the end of the course, you walk back up through a forest designated a Site of Environmental Significance for its biodiversity. The dense bush is home to weta, skinks, glow worms and geckos, and as our guide explained: “this is what Aotearoa looked like before humans arrived.”

After the tour, EcoZip will drop you back to the ferry or at certain vineyards, restaurants or villages.

In fact, your free return ticket lasts for a year – so you can use it as part of a weekend on the island. Just make sure if you head to a vineyard, you do the zipping before the sipping.

You’ll get stunning views of Auckland on the ferry trip.

Supplied

You’ll get stunning views of Auckland on the ferry trip.

More information: ecozip.co.nz

Cost: $129 per adult – plus a free return ferry journey if you use the code FREE2020. Terms and conditions here. (The ferry cost to Waiheke is normally $42 per adult.)

The author’s trip was supported by EcoZip and Fullers, and commissioned with the help of Tourism New Zealand. Read more about our partnership content here.

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