Ziptrek Ecotours launches world’s first augmented zipline tour

Award-winning Ziptrek Ecotours in Queenstown, New Zealand, is taking its first steps in combining adventure tourism with digital storytelling. 

Award-winning Ziptrek Ecotours in Queenstown, New Zealand, is taking its first steps in combining adventure tourism with digital storytelling.  

With tourism going through massive change and upheaval, Ziptrek’s built on its reputation as a renowned leader in eco-tourism to incorporate XR (extended reality) technologies into adventure tourism.

Ziptrek perceives its focus is as a storyteller, contextualizing its place in nature and creating meaningful ‘wow’ moments of travel.

Business owner Trent Yeo says the challenge was to take the perception of XR as being one of technological immersion for many young people in particular, and refocus the technology application to one of nature interaction.

“That’s the basis on which we’ve developed our animated tour guide ‘Kerry the Kereru’, taking people out on our very real, touchable environments in our treehouses and on our ziplines with our guides, as always, but with the addition of a light digital overlay,” he says.

The new Kereru Interactive tour (known as K.I for short) features animated tour guide Kerry the Kereru voiced by local Kiwi author and singer Craig Smith, known to Kiwi kids and families everywhere as the Wonky Donkey man.

While the technology is still nascent and XR business cases still developing, Ziptrek is excited to build this experiment in human interaction. Alongside human guides, Kerry is a digital avatar that travels with guests as they’re taken back in time and through a physical forest zipline course. In keeping with the company’s environmental focus the story is about Aotearoa, the land of birds.

Trent says whether guests remember Roger Rabbit or Pokemon Go, this is Ziptrek’s ‘first step’ blended environment where digital assets are contextualized by spectacular natural surroundings.

“We look forward to the opportunities that augmented and mixed realities (XR) can create in the intersection with a real-life tourism experience,” he says.

The project team has been working for about 18 months, with the release delayed by Covid.  Alongside Ziptrek, its technology partner Plattar worked tirelessly to bring this to market when many businesses were contracting R&D investment.

Plattar founder Rupert Deans says the platform enables leading tourism operators like Ziptrek to move beyond traditional tourism delivery by unlocking the power of 3D and augmented reality, creating unique and shareable moments for guests.

“The tourism space is one of the most exciting expressions of this technology. We’re excited to work with Trent and Ziptrek on this pilot and look forward to building further on this,” he says.

The innovative Kereru Interactive will feature the exciting 21m ‘Kereru Drop’ after guests travel along two ziplines. For those who prefer not to do ‘the drop’ and are a bit more marginal than a Kereru at flying, there’s an alternative option to return via a small exit zipline.

The tour officially launches this month with booking available from Monday March 29. The K.I. product will take an hour and is available at an introductory price of $89, available for the first month for direct bookings via the website and in store before extending to its trade partners.

Social media handles are #kereruinteractive, #ki, #ziptreknz  #ziplinesnz  

Check out the details on the K.I promotional video here 

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Young Landscaper of the Year and national awards medal bonanza for Southern Landmarx

Queenstown landscaping company Southern Landmarx had a glittering night at the Landscapes of Distinction Awards in Christchurch over the weekend.

Queenstown landscaping company Southern Landmarx had a glittering night at the Landscapes of Distinction Awards in Christchurch over the weekend.

Not only did they bring home an outstanding three gold and three silver medals for two Cromwell-based landscape projects, but their Operations Manager Tama Ritter won New Zealand Young Landscaper of the Year.

Southern Landmarx directors Jaye and Joe Nutting paid tribute to the “hard work and determination” shown by Tama in winning the national title.

“We’re all extremely proud of him after he came to us seven years ago knowing nothing about landscaping, but he’s worked his way up from an apprentice to the top,” said Jaye.

Tama, 28, said he had found his day of practical tests, a speech and interviews, up against 12 other competitors, “a bit nerve wracking and daunting.”

He won two Outstanding Achievement awards in Career Development and Communications before he was named the overall winner at the gala dinner presentation.

“It was such a surprise to hear my name being called out and it still hasn’t really sunk in, to be honest,” he said. “But I see it as confirmation of how far I have come in the industry, and it’s the cherry on top of all the hard work over the years.

“I love landscaping because it isn’t just one skillset, it’s such a wide variety of work. Each project has new and interesting challenges.

“You take a ‘blank’ landscape around some awesome houses and then the visual aspect of what we add is huge. It’s like dressing the house so it’s shown off to its full advantage, maximising the landscape and its surrounds.”

Southern Landmarx faced stiff competition from a record number of entries from all around New Zealand for the landscape awards.

The company won an impressive two gold medals in landscape construction and landscape horticulture for its Clutha River Views entry, as well as a silver for design. It also won a gold medal in landscape construction for its Dunstan Vista residence along with two silvers for design and horticulture.

Jaye and Joe said it was a “fantastic acknowledgement” of the hard work that had gone into the two properties by their 16-strong team.

“We also want to acknowledge the vision and dedication of the owners and their collaborative approach which has enabled us to do so well across these three key residential landscape categories,” said managing director Joe.

“We’re thrilled to win these awards which recognise and celebrate the high-quality design and construction of our work, and our ability to use plants that have been locally raised and ‘hardened off’ in our Cromwell-based Burn Cottage Nursery.”

Joe said the Clutha River Views project was a “particularly inspiring” garden to work on due to the owners’ desire to incorporate an historical element into a new build, integrating elements of their past home to which they had an emotional attachment following the Christchurch earthquakes.

The Dunstan Vista project was inspired by family, meeting not only the needs of the clients but their grandchildren. For that reason it incorporated an expansive lawn for the children to play, a pool area for the heat of summer and a unique, peaceful seating area away from the main home where the owners could relax while soaking up the views.

For more information about Southern Landmarx go to

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