A mountain bike and monster scooters adventure park opens in Northland soon.
Set on a 57-hectare property on the outskirts of Whangarei's harbourside suburb of Onerahi, HeadsUp Adventures features custom-designed tracks which navigate through natural bush and ocean scenery.
Elevation from top to bottom is about 160 metres with grades to suit most levels. There's also a cafe to take in the sights.
The park includes a New Zealand first, say owners Warren and Angela Gill - the introduction of Monster Scooters which come with off-road tyres and are designed to easily traverse the bumpiest of tracks.
For the Gills, the opening will mark the fulfillment of a longheld family dream.
Mr Gill has a background in civil construction and has built many types of tracks, from motorbike to mountain bike, for himself, his mates and his three sons, Luke, 19, Liam, 17, and Wyatt,12.
During this time Mr Gill dreamt of being able to share the family's love of riding and outdoors and was eager to fuel his passion of building longer and better tracks.
Creating an outdoor haven of activity and a forever paradise was Mr Gill's and his sons' ultimate goal and lifestyle dream.
So the family began looking for the perfect property which they found on Whangarei Heads Road just five minutes from Onerahi – "143 acres of land with endless 360-degree views of both the ocean and forest".
Constructing and sculpting existing old farm tracks through native bush and indigenous forest became Mr Gill and his sons' (and their mates) weekend passion.
The development of the dream had taken about 24 months and has not been without challenges, said Mrs Gill.
"We have had to focus hard on maintaining a balanced approach with regards work, lifestyle and family priorities. We also certainly believe that without the constant support and dedication of mentor and close friend, Qurayne Dauth, we wouldn't be where we are today," she said.
"Whangarei has been thriving for several years now and we want to be a part of the optimism and future, whilst knowing we have done our bit as an ordinary family to make a small difference in our beautiful city.
"We are excited to offer super fun tracks for all skill levels of mountain bikers and scooter riders and believe what we have developed will be a great springboard for many hours of fun to be had by all keen riders out there."
The monster scooters were developed for use in the Swiss Alps during the summer months when there was no snow.
The Gills are excited about the scooters which will be a major point of difference for locals and visitors to experience.
However, the introduction of monster scooters in New Zealand almost didn't happen, Mr Gill said.
"We began our journey with the monster scooters by dealing with a supplier in the United States. After five months of building a relationship with this supplier, and having paid a $30,000 deposit on the equipment, the supplier 'vanished' after shutting his factory overnight.
"We are currently working with the US authorities to track him down. We were a small part of a much larger group of businesses which were unfortunately part of this professional scam.
"It has been a very distressing time for us, however our passion and commitment to this project has pushed us into stepping above this setback and we reset the process with the result of dealing with a committed supplier from Switzerland."
The monster scooters side of the business is due to open in early January. Future plans include survival camps and survival skills courses, tactical training and back-to-nature learning suitable for schools, corporates and individuals, plus many exciting team-building activities such as extensive obstacle courses and paint balling.
The Gills are very conscientious of looking after the environment on their property and take pride in controlling all pests, whilst maintaining a high standard of effective conservation.
They also moved onto the property with the goal of being as self-sustainable as possible, and are excited about being 100 per cent "off grid".
"We are also working towards growing all of our own fruit and veges, with this still being a work in progress for me personally," Mrs Gill said.
The boys are involved in the development of the park, which has taught them many life lessons and has given them a sense of direction, responsibility and purpose.
Luke is currently overseas, however he oversees the social media aspect of the business. He is looking forward to returning to work with the family very soon.
Mrs Gill said they have been working closely with the district council and Shona Kelly from ReflectNZ during the whole process to ensure all health and safety compliance and consent requirements have been ticked off.