KapohoKine has a unique braking system for its ziplines. // © 2014 KapohoKine Adventures
When KapohoKine Adventures was launched in 2004, the two-person firm offered intimate Hawaii Island ground tours focusing on sustainability and authenticity. Ten years later, the company has grown to include zipline adventures, helicopter tours and retail sales of wilderness clothes and gear, and it has turned into a big hit with passengers on cruise ships.
Throughout its 10-year evolution, however, its founders have remained dedicated to ecotourism.
“Tony DeLellis and I started the business with just one Chevy Suburban to transport guests,” said KapohoKine Adventures co-owner Gary Morrow. “Today, we have 20 vehicles and 60 employees. But we still specialize in taking small groups to the real Hawaii while minimizing our impact on the island.”
Over the past decade, perhaps the most significant addition to the company’s offerings has been its zipline tour. Introduced on the east side of the island in May 2012, the two-mile, eight-line course runs across 600 acres of private lands accessible to no one else. Soaring over waterfalls, a river and a pristine rainforest, it culminates in a half-mile line that is the longest on the island. Features of the course include elevated platforms, suspension bridges and suspended staircases.
“Since our zipline tours are located on the wetter side of the island, we’ve made sure all of our platforms have roofs, and we provide guests with waterproof jackets if it’s raining,” said Morrow.
KapohoKine recently introduced a fully automatic self-regulating magnetic braking system on its ziplines, bringing participants to a safe and comfortable stop.
“We’re the only zipline operator in the state that uses this technology,” said Morrow. “Guests and guides don’t have to worry about braking manually.”
KapohoKine also serves as the supplier and exclusive maintenance and certification company for magnetic zipline brakes in Hawaii and Alaska, he noted.
KapohoKine’s zipline course is distinctive for several other reasons. It can accommodate children as young as five who weigh a minimum of 35 pounds, as long as they wear a child harness and ride tandem with a guide. The company also has the capacity to work with disabled travelers. And non-zipliners can hike the path while the group flies above them. It’s also the only company on Hawaii Island offering all dual ziplines.
“We even had a bride and groom zip side-by-side wearing their wedding clothes, leading up to their ceremony,” said Morrow.
In other news, KapohoKine has opened a new headquarters in Hilo. Along with serving as the check-in point for the firm’s east-side tours, it doubles as a retail outfitter with gear for wilderness adventures. Clients can try their hand at the store’s indoor climbing wall while they are waiting for their tour to start.
Morrow and DeLellis have added three excursions dubbed HeliZip, combining a zipline tour and helicopter tour. One of the HeliZip itineraries comes with an excursion in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and dinner at the historic Volcano House, with views of glowing Halemaumau Crater after dark.