Categorized | Business

KapohoKine Adventures suspends zipline bookings indefinitely


KapohoKine Adventures (KKA), an eco-tourism company based in Hilo and with islandwide operations, confirmed that it has suspended booking zipline tours pending a full evaluation on the soil composition and structural integrity of the lines.

In September, a not-yet-operational line that was undergoing final testing at Lava Hotline’s site by the company that installed it, failed. One construction worker was killed and another seriously injured.

KKA has used Lava Hotline exclusively for its zipline tours. Lava Hotline closed the operation pending evaluation and KKA will not book tours at other ziplines until the causes of the accident are fully understood.

“KKA wants to see the reports of the soil, structural engineering and architectural consultants that Lava Hotline retained to evaluate the ziplines,” said KKA co-owner Tony DeLellis.

Those evaluations are underway on the seven other Lava Hotline ziplines in the same area as the one that failed. Lava Hotline zipline is owned by KKA partner Gary Marrow.

KapohoKine Adventures was launched in 2004 from a garage in Kapoho.

“We provide guests to Hawaii Island the best experience possible, introducing them to what makes this island unique, with its volcanic eruptions, incredible vistas and seascapes and we do it in a way that is a cut above what was being offered when we started,” DeLellis said.

KKA is continuing its popular eco-tours, minus zipline experiences.

With one 2004 Chevy Suburban and one guide (co-owner Gary Marrow), the partners began their specialized eco-adventures, marketing heavily to cruise line visitors.

In 2007, the company moved its expanding fleet out of the Kapoho garage into a 4,800-square-foot baseyard in Pepeekeo.

Then the economy and the island’s cruise line passenger count plunged the following year. The company scrambled and has managed to survive. DeLellis is proud that even during the tough economic times, KKA never let go of any of its 25 employees.

As discerning visitors look for more meaningful experiences, the KKA ohana (Hawaiian for family) searches for ways to reshape and improve eco-tourism, by developing experiences suited to visitors on both sides of Hawaii Island.

“Our tours are as much about education and preservation of the environment as they are about an exciting adventure,” DeLellis said.

KKA’s outdoor adventures include road trips through lava country in Puna, interpretive walks at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, barbeques at KKA’s partner macadamia nut and honey farm, helicopter and aerial flights above secluded native rainforests, cascading waterfalls and craters.

Zipline adventures, long used as transportation in mountainous regions and at ski resorts, become a worldwide attraction for eco-travelers and Hawaii Island allows ziplines on agricultural land as an open area recreational use. KKA added them to its menu of services in 2010.

While KKA suspended booking any zipline tours, pending the reviews by specialists, it continues its other high-value tours. On a given day, the Hilo-based eco-tour company will field 18 vehicles (14 from Hilo, four from a second base in Kona that opened in 2009) and as many as 250 visitors.

Customers range from local school children to honeymooners and eco-tourists of all ages.

KKA has a storefront on Waianuenue Avenue in Hilo, which carries eco-adventure gear from Patagonia and Keen footwear, plus locally made jewelry and Atebara snacks.

The store is also a gathering place where people talk story about their adventures as well as enjoy downtown Hilo.

KKA and its partners also have a strong sense of stewardship when it comes maintaining and celebrating the natural beauty of Hawaii. The KapohoKine team regularly cleans up litter along the highway and the slopes of Mauna Kea, and contributes to many local charity fundraisers.

“We’re honored that groups big and small, from St. Joseph’s School in Hilo to national organizations such as the Make A Wish Foundation, have approached us for help,” DeLellis said. “It’s so fulfilling to be able to help local and national groups experience the wonder of Hawaii Island where they otherwise might not be able to.”

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