Driving Creek Railway is now the home of Coromandel Zipline Tours; an exciting eco-adventure that will no doubt earn a permanent place in the hearts, minds and memories of all those who embrace the experience. Driving Creek has been a popular Coromandel visitor destination for decades, with its bush railway, pottery and stunning scenery enjoyed by many. Coromandel Zipline Tours is Driving Creek’s latest offering, and it offers an enchanting way to discover the Driving Creek environment and learn about its transformation from kauri logging, goldmining and pastural farming, into a lush native forest brimming with birdlife and fauna.
Driving Creek’s founder Barry Brickell, was a potter and keen conservationist who purchased the current property in 1974. With a vision for conservation, clay arts and enhancing the local economy, Driving Creek developed as a scenic tourist railway, with Barry’s pottery and clay art dotted throughout the property rich with regenerating native bush. Some 27,000 trees were hand planted on the property, 9,000 of them kauri. Coromandel Zipline Tours continues to honour Barry Brickell’s legacy and vision. It is a fully charitable company with all the profits from tours going towards restoring and preserving New Zealand’s native forests and supporting the New Zealand clay arts.
Aligning with its history, Coromandel Zipline Tours is the only known zipline canopy tour that uses a train to take you to the start of the first zipline. The eighteen minute train ride sets the scene for the tour, with guides providing an entertaining and informative introduction whilst meandering upward through the stunning sloping native bush. In addition to kauri, rimu and native ferns, captivating clay artworks and sculpture are hidden in glades, banks and valleys along the way. The open air train puts you right in the midst of the scenery and the cool temperature and clean scent of the forest distill the senses.
The train journey ends at the start of the zipline. The zipline journey includes eight ziplines, spanning from 50 metres to 200 metres in length. The ziplines traverse from treetop to treetop, spanning over gullies and streams, and allowing you to experience the forest canopy with a bird’s eye view. Two guides work in partnership to lead the tour, ensuring you are in safe and competent hands. Safety equipment ensures you are clipped onto cables at all times, and are comfortable to soak up the experience and the view from both the zipline and the treetop platforms between lines.
In addition to the sheer delight of whizzing through the forest canopy at a thrilling speed, CoroZip guides share the story of the land and its transformation to what can be seen today. From the effects of kauri logging, gold mining and pastural farming into a QEII protected regenerating native forest, the story of Barry Brickell’s vision and quest is as awe-inspiring and exhilarating as the ziplines.
In the cool shade of a serene clearing beside the Copeland Stream (once a gold discovery site), CoroZip guides share their knowledge and insight into the conservation of the forest and the work that is being done towards preserving the environment for future generations. It is an opportunity to learn about initiatives surrounding pest control and kauri dieback prevention, as well as the work Driving Creek Trust are doing to aim towards Coromandel being pest free by 2030. With the river trickling alongside and the birds flying above, the information being shared carries a deep and lasting resonance.
The final zipline is a 200 metre ride that takes you back to Driving Creek Village. The tour takes three hours all up, and the on-site cafe offering coffee and snacks is a welcome way to conclude the journey. The village also has a ‘play with clay’ area, offering daily experiences with options for works to be glazed and fired. Art and pottery can be perused and enjoyed throughout the village, with further developments in the pipeline for Driving Creek in the future. It is a unique and rather remarkable place to spend time; immersed in art, nature and the innovation and inspiration of an extraordinary individual whose legacy lives on.
Coromandel Zipline Tours is certainly an adventure that will take you out of your comfort zone and reward you with excitement and ever-increasing confidence. But it is more about experience than adrenaline and provides a unique view of the forest rather than a thrill-seeking ride for adrenaline junkies. Families with children aged 6 years and up can do it, and there is no upper level age limit. As long as you feel fit and able, the team at Coromandel Zipline Tours will accommodate you and help allay any fears or concerns. There are multiple tours available each day and pre-booking is highly recommended as there is a limit of 10 people per tour.