As a kid, I was fascinated by flying foxes.
My brother and I used ropes and Dad’s ratchets to jimmy up lines between trees, getting a kick out of whizzing through the air for a few metres – if it didn’t otherwise end in tears when ropes broke.
So when an opportunity arose to do the Ziptrek Ecotours, naturally I was keen.
Ziptrek, situated on Ben Lomond and accessed by Skyline Gondola, incorporates flying foxes with an educational tour through the trees.
The Kea Tour is the company’s six-line tour, which starts off pretty easy – you’re clipped on to the flying fox via a full-body harness and travel through the Douglas firs and native beech from one tree house to the next.
The flying foxes don’t get gnarly till the end, but friendly guides Tom and Simon suggest spicing up the easier rides by getting each member of the group to zip upside down, do the “cannon ball” and the “leap of faith” – where you stand with your arms out, eyes closed, and fall backwards till the harness line takes hold. As you journey down the mountain, the guides educate you on the environment and sustainability – “which can be boring but it will become more and more relevant”, Tom says.
I even learned some cool things, like Cecil and Walter Peaks are named after Queenstown founder Sir William Rees’ sons. And that Lake Wakatipu rises at one end and falls at the other every 25 minutes – the scientific term is a “seiche”, or a standing wave.
The final two flying foxes are the really fun ones and where you gain the most speed. The last one is the steepest tree-to-tree line in the world – descending 30 storeys at up to 70kmh. There are some pretty spectacular views, too.
If you’re an uber adrenaline junkie, this won’t get the heart racing like throwing yourself off a bungy bridge but it just might unleash your inner child.
All you need to know
What Ziptrek Ecotours
Where Ben Lomond
Cost Kea Tour (six lines) $179 for adults, Moa Tour (four lines) $129 for adults
Thrill-o-meter 6 out of 10