When Gavin Oliver and his co-founder created EcoZip Adventures, their vision was to “get tourists off tour buses and into the bush”. They wanted their guests to experience the natural beauty of Waiheke Island during an adrenaline-filled, gravity-fuelled ride, and in doing so, contribute to the restoration of the island’s natural resources. It’s an ambition that has remained at the core of EcoZip’s ethos ever since, most recently embodied in the company’s donation of $8000 to fund the purchase of 1400 native trees.
This gesture is even more impressive given the challenges faced by a company for whom 70 percent of its revenue has traditionally come from overseas visitors.
“The environment still needs our help urgently,” Oliver points out, “regardless of a pandemic that has brought the world to its knees. We are delighted to honour our commitment to match the $4000 raised over the past year from contributions by our customers.”
In the past five years alone, the ziplining operation has committed well over $50,000 to preserving and enhancing its own greatest resource: an expansive gully of virgin coastal forest that has avoided the same fate as elsewhere on the island, where gentler contours have been cleared to make way for farms and vineyards.
“We’ve carried out extensive pest and disease control, and planted more than 2500 trees,” Oliver explains.
It’s worth noting that all those trees haven’t planted themselves – in addition to EcoZip’s cash investment, thousands of hours’ labour have been put in by EcoZip staff. Anyone who has visited EcoZip will be familiar with the passion its people share for the work they carry out when they are not strapping paying customers into harnesses and launching them into the yonder. When their joyrides are completed, guests are accompanied back to the top by enthusiastic guides who are only too happy to share their knowledge of the bush, its inhabitants and their collective importance.
The trees that have been purchased thanks to EcoZip’s donation are destined for planting in seven wetland areas across Waiheke and have been grown by two small businesses on the island from locally collected seed. Waiheke Resources Trust will oversee their planting which, according to General Manager Mike Maahs, will be carried out by a team of enthusiastic volunteers.
"Planting trees helps people feel they're doing something that directly supports the environment," says Mike. "It is a fun experience and a tangible contribution that is even more meaningful when undertaken as a family. The tree becomes a personal legacy as well as an environmental investment."
“Continuous funding for trees is hugely valuable as it allows us to plan ahead. Knowing that EcoZip is supporting us gives us confidence to set planting days and manage our resources towards sustainable restoration work. It is a simple and effective partnership that benefits all,” he adds.
Maahs says the trees are destined to be planted into hard-working ecosystems that filter water, protect the oceans by trapping sediment, absorb carbon from the atmosphere and are home to critically endangered and endemic wildlife.
“In Aotearoa, only ten percent of our original wetlands areas are remaining, due to drainage and degradation from development and agriculture. The regeneration of our wetlands is a crucial step towards providing a future for our endangered species of birds and fish, combating climate change and providing clean and safe waterways for recreation.”
EcoZip’s decision to embrace its role as kaitiaki (guardians) has resulted in the successful restoration of a forest area that was choked with weeds and devoid of native birdlife twelve years ago. Oliver says the company’s intention is to continue working to restore and protect Waiheke Island’s environmental and cultural heritage, and to take its guests along for the ride.
“By making a $4 donation, our visitors are contributing to a lasting environmental legacy that will benefit both the land and future generations. Our hope is that our efforts will inspire other businesses – on the island and across the country – to do the same.”
For more information:
NSPR Ltd, Niki Schuck, 021 911332, firstname.lastname@example.org.
EcoZip Adventures’ Gavin Oliver plants natives ahead of Arbor and World Environment Day.