Thursday, 14 November 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Zipline tours expected to provide major boost to tourism sector

Hundreds of visitors experienced flying through native Coromandel bush last weekend as zipline canopy tours got underway at Driving Creek Railway outside Coromandel Town, providing a significant boost to the tourism sector on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Capable of hosting 120 people a day, the zipline has been two years in the making and will be a year-round attraction at Driving Creek, which already draws 60,000 people a year. It is part of a major expansion of the facility, from a railway tourist joyride and one of the largest potteries in Australasia, to the full Driving Creek experience across a 25ha estate, bringing to life the late Barry Brickell’s vision for the property.

Stretching one kilometre in total, CoroZip consists of eight separate ziplines and guides visitors through the bush canopy and over the Copeland Stream. Once harnessed, zipline visitors take the rail car halfway to Driving Creek’s pinnacle EyeFull Tower observation point for the start of the guided tour back down to the Driving Creek village.

According to Driving Creek’s executive director, Neil Oppatt, the rail car ride to the start, the conservation park setting, ziplining over the Copeland Stream and the guided stories of the land’s history is what sets the new zipline apart from others in the country. “After our fabulous guides took me on the tour, I truly believe this is a remarkable and unique experience,” he said.

Thames-Coromandel District Council mayor, Sandra Goudie, said it was fantastic to have a new high-level tourism product opening on the Coromandel. “Ziplines are popular activities and what could be a better place to fly through the forest canopy but in native Coromandel bush. Congratulations to the team at Driving Creek on all the hard work that has gone into creating this exciting venture,” she said.

Hadley Dryden, general manager, Destination Coromandel, believes the new attraction will have a widespread spinoff effect for Coromandel Town and the wider area. “CoroZip will add so much to what is already an amazing experience at Driving Creek Railway. One of the region’s most popular attractions is about to deliver even more for visitors, which will bring further benefits to the Coromandel,” he said.

The launch of CoroZip marks the first step in a new chapter for Driving Creek Railway with planning underway to further open up the park and introduce a series of new tourism products, including a forest adventure playground for children,  pottery workshops, daily ‘play with clay’ sessions, new studios for resident artists and a series of curated mini exhibitions to tell stories of Driving Creek and Barry Brickell.

Founded by Barry in 1961, Driving Creek’s clay-laden hills were ideal for potting and the ferry at Coromandel Town provided easy access to the Auckland market. The venture expanded to include a narrow-gauge mountain railway used to transport extracted clay and large sculptures, a museum to house a large personal collection of artworks and a conservation project to create a native kauri forest by planting over nine thousand kauri and 27,000 native plants.

Driving Creek started offering rail tours when visitors began turning up at the gate asking for a ride on Barry’s train. The bulk of the property is now held under a QEII National Trust covenant.

Barry, who passed away in 2016, wanted visitors to experience the true beauty of New Zealand native bush and learn about native flora, fauna and conservation. “Barry had a vision for the property and we’re staying true to that. People are inspired by what one person can do in their lifetime,” Neil said.

“CoroZip has been developed to further Driving Creek’s core aims of supporting conservation on the Coromandel, fostering the clay arts and enhancing the local economy. Being a community-based charitable organisation, Driving Creek’s profits go towards improving Coromandel and New Zealand as a whole for current and future generations.”

Pictured: Boh Boyd from Whitianga who was one of the first lucky visitors to test out the new zipline at Driving Creek in Coromandel Town.

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