Award-wining Ziptrek Ecotours in Queenstown, New Zealand, is taking its first steps in combining adventure tourism with digital storytelling.
With tourism experiencing extreme change and upheaval due to the COVID pandemic, renowned eco-tourism leader Ziptrek has added to its reputation by incorporating Extended Reality (X.R.) technologies into adventure tourism.
Owner Trent Yeo said Ziptrek aimed to take pre-conceptions of X.R. as being one of technological immersion and refocus the technological application towards nature interaction.
This approach is the basis on which the Ziptrek team has developed their animated tour Kereru Interactive tour (K.I.), which takes people through “our very real, touchable environments”, of treehouses and ziplines, with the addition of a "light, digital overlay", said Yeo.
The new Kereru Interactive tour (K.I.) features animated tour guide Kerry the Kereru voiced by local Kiwi author and singer Craig Smith, that travels with guests, alongside human guides, as they journey through a physical forest zipline course, telling a story adherent to Ziptrek’s environmental focus on Aotearoa, the land of birds.
Whilst the technology is still nascent, and X.R. for businesses is still developing, Ziptrek is excited to implement this experiment of human interaction. K.I. is Ziptrek’s 'first step' blended environment where spectacular natural surroundings contextualize digital assets. "We look forward to the opportunities that augmented, and mixed realities can create in the intersection with a real-life tourism experience," said Yeo.
The project team, alongside tech partner Platter, has been working for about 18 months to release the tour.
Plattar founder Rupert Deans said the platform enables leading tourism operators like Ziptrek to utilize 3D and augmented reality to create "meaningful 'wow' moments of travel". Deans said Plattar is excited to express this technology in the tourism space by working with Yeo and Ziptrek on this pilot and future builds.
The Kereru Interactive Tour will feature the exciting 21m 'Kereru Drop' after guests travel along two ziplines. There is an alternative option to return via a small exit zipline for those who prefer not to do the drop.
The tour officially launched in March, with bookings available via the website and in-store.