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4 Waiheke Weekender
fine March day and this visit to get the full effect of the
transformation and I am absolutely amazed at what has
been achieved in such a short time.
We have chosen the best day yet, the crew tell us on
arrival, and I can see why.
Everything is sparkling in shades of blue and green,
with not a breath of wind.
Where the patch of gorsy grass once was, an elegant
wooden structure now stands, its skybridge framing that
expansive view of sea, sky, bush and distant cityscape.
A later enquiry reveals it was conceived and built by
Bart Haub of Haven Waiheke – and a number of mostly
local sub contractors – having been initially passed on
to an Auckland-based designer Garth Kennedy to refine
the plans ready for submission.
Gavin Oliver rates Bart and his team very highly.
“I have to give a large amount of credit for the ‘wow’
factor of this to Bart Haub; it’s many of the refinements
that he proposed during the build that have led to us
having a visitor centre that continually draws a hugely
Out front is a perfect green bouncy lawn (ready
lawn is good like that) dotted with picnic
tables and everything looks ready to go,
like a stage set waiting for the first night
and the actors to bring it to life.
We sign our lives away with a stan-
dard ‘waiver ’ form, whose fine print I
must admit I didn’t read, and slather on
the sunscreen before our guides Helen
and John conscientously take us through
the safety procedures and get us kitted up
into harnesses and helmets.
I hate messing about with buckles and
clasps normally, but when I realise that
these devices are the only things stand-
ing between me and plummeting to earth
without a parachute, I pay attention.
This is when the guides come into
their own, telling us what to expect and
what to avoid – don’t hold on to any
metal, keep your knees up at the other
end, don’t go until you get the word –
and then it’s the witching hour, the moment we had, er,
apparently signed up for.
We are not the first group, I am highly relieved to
know. They have sent at least 200 people ahead of us in
the last month or so.
Off smoothly and uneventfully go the American
couple as a pair; you can travel in twos as there are
parallel zip lines on each of the three stages.
No unseemly screaming or yelling from them, as
Then it is our turn. Standing up on that wooden
of a moveable ladder.
This is only an interim thing, I am told,
in lieu of a more stable dismount. I have to
say I didn’t feel unsafe at any time, more
just that the ladder itself is an unwieldy
thing to be getting down from.
After that first 200-metre zip – the
most gentle angle of the three – things
are going to get a bit more exciting. Not
sure if I like the idea of that, but with the
alternative being retiring back up the hill
to base, dignity in shreds, I smile and nod
along with everyone else.
We’ve been joined at the first zip by
retired Bevan, a pleasant ‘good sort’ from
Whangaparoa who had been passing by
with a walking group and decided to aban-
don them in favour of a bigger thrill.
Above – The dappled green of the bush below forms a
nice contrast to the adrenalin adventure above.
Left – Guide Helen zips herself to the next platform.
This device is apparently highly superior to whatever has
gone before it in the way of technology for these adventures.
The American pair choose that moment to recount a zip lining
adventure they’ve had in the States where they came to a very
sudden and violent halt at the end of the ride.
This way they said was much, much better and having no
comparison, I have to agree.
We are received at the other end by guide John Hedley, who
has whizzed himself down ahead of us.
Getting unhooked and ushered down to the next plat-
form is a bit hairy as it involves standing on the top rungs
ledge, waiting for the ‘3, 2, 1,
zip’ command feels quite surreal.
Like suddenly finding yourself in
an irreversible situation that you
must have wanted at some point,
but have now decided that you
Then we are away and I simply
step off the ledge and become
instantly airborne, whizzing over
a newly-planted vineyard (syrah
grapes due to be harvested in 2016)
and find out what it’s like to get
from A to B in quicker than usual
time (about 25 to 30 seconds) and
on unfamiliar transport.
I have just about decided it’s
fun, and start whooping and yell-
ing, when I whirr to a stop at the
‘receiving platform’ courtesy of
a state-of-the-art nifty braking
device, designed in Christchurch.
Bevan from Whangaparoa
gets pulled in by guide John.
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