Men In Kilts Returns! Sam Terrifies Graham in Daredevil Zipline Trip – Review, ep. 201

The boys are back in town! After a wait that seemed like it lasted forever, with film shot during Covid lockdowns in 2022, we finally get a second season of Men In Kilts. However, there are some changes – they’re in New Zealand! And there are only 4 half-hour episodes, so we have to absorb them and love them while we have a chance.

New Zealand is a country unlike any other, and most of us have never really had a glimpse of it, except possibly in the Lord of the Rings films. That’s how Graham McTavish came to live there – he says in the show that when was was in the country working on the Hobbit films, for 2-1/2 years, he told a producer that someone would end up staying there – and it was him (John Bell also had a role in  this trilogy). I have a personal connection to New Zealand – my son and his brand new bride went almost right from their wedding reception in 2019 to moving to the North Island. They have had two little boys since then, and my husband and I were on one of the first flights over when the border opened on May 1, 2022. He too fell in love with the country, when he worked on a cruise ship going back and forth from Australia to New Zealand for six months. So this season is close to my heart. Just for fun, here’s a song my son wrote as they were preparing to move. This is him, Greg Conrad, singing and playing all instruments. He’s now working as a professional musician in the Hawke’s Bay area.

The first episode was certainly fun – as Sam told Graham, this is adrenaline country, and they got right to some of the biggest adrenaline producing activities they could find, to Graham’s chagrin. Reviewing a show like this, where we’re not going to discuss plots or characters, is a little different. So as I did with Season 1, I’m going to try to bring you some additional information about the places the guys go, the specific activities they do, or the people they meet. And that’s why this week’s review is a little late – I chatted with the owner of the ziplining company that Sam and Graham visited!


Kirsty Tennent is one of the owners of Paradise Ziplines, along with her partner Chris Russell. Kirsty and Chris were stuck in Australia for much of NZ’s lockdown – the country had a very strict re-entry policy, even for citizens, which included a mandatory 2-week quarantine in a government-managed facility. Spaces in those facilities came up by lottery, but there were very few spaces and it was fairly expensive. Many kiwis ended up stranded out of country. This segment was filmed in January 2022, and the two employees shown in the piece, Dougie and Shane, are no longer with Paradise because it was basically shut down for such a long time! Kirsty and Chris saw this segment for the first time this past Monday night, when the show debuted in New Zealand.

Had you ever had a program come and film with you before?
No, this was the first filming of this type that we had had done with us.

What did you hear about the shoot – any stories you heard about Sam and Graham? Graham looked TERRIFIED, lol! (I’d love to do a zipline, but not THAT high up!)
I heard that Graham was genuinely terrified and took considerably longer than shown in the episode to actually come to terms with doing that first line – it felt more like 10 minutes rather than 1 according to Dougie!  Dougie in fact thought that perhaps he wasn’t going to go (this happens very seldom but when it does it’s usually due to it being someone else’s idea of fun to book on our activity… someone maybe like Sam!), so kudos to him for stepping past that fear and trusting that the “diabolical mind” of Chris Russell was in fact sane enough to have constructed a perfectly safe (but adventurous) zipline course!

I did love how much Graham’s demeanor totally changed as he went through the course – from Terrified to “WOW” (I lost count of the number of times he and Sam said that).

How long were they with your guides? Do you have any pictures from the shoot you can share?
I’m afraid we don’t have any pictures – our guides were with the team for about 4 hours in total on the course.  It’s quite a bit of work  (and time) filming something like this as the drone set up and 3 main cameras have to be broken down and transported across each line then reassembled.  There were about 26 in the production team on site that day – many of whom ended up coming back in the following days as customers to experience the zipline (as of course only Sam, Graham and the camera crew actually went through the course on the day of filming).

Graham must have got some enjoyment of it as his family came out as customers a few days after the filming!!  I took that as a definite sign of him enjoying it (after the first line anyway 😉

How long have you been open? Are you back up to speed now? Is ziplining big in New Zealand?
We had a soft opening December of 2017 – April 2018 – closed for that winter then reopened in October 2018 and remained open year round since then until shutting for Covid in March 2020 – after which it was a very challenging situation with NZ having it’s borders closed to international travellers for a good chunk of time and we were open as much as we could be with the superstars of the show being Dougie and Shane (featured in MIK).  We did a complete restart on Oct 1st 2022 and since then have had excellent visitor numbers and we have been very pleasantly surprised at the number of return customers and referrals we have been getting – a sure sign that people are enjoying themselves!

Ziplining is a popular tourist activity in NZ – there are various different styles of courses both here and around the world; some are what’s called “clip and climb” which are typically unguided and more of a “challenge/confidence course” set up, some are all about being one massively high or long line.  Our course is more about taking people on an adventurous journey in breath-taking wilderness – providing an epic experience in an area otherwise inaccessible to the public. Yes we have some higher lines, we also have some epic down river lines and in fact these down river lines are what really make our experience unique.
Kirsty provided some additional info about the location and the business.
Just a bit about the area here to put the little town of Glenorchy in context – Queenstown is a STUNNING 50 mins drive away (along the side of the lake.. honestly, magical scenery) and it’s Queenstown that is the jewel in the crown of NZ Tourism, Queesntown is often referred to as the adventure capital of the world – literally everything of an adventurous nature can be done within about an hours’ drive from the small town (population of about 16,000). Glenorchy has a population of about 400 – so tiny!
Chris chose the location of the zipline due to the tight gorge that it’s in (The Oxburn Gorge) which is filled with native beech forest and has that stunning alpine river running down it.  The ziplines were actually built to gain access to a proposed bungy site (as mentioned on the show).  We have consents now for 2 bungy sites but as he got “carried away” with the build we opened first as a zipline course.  It took 3 summers of Chris and his friend Irish working on logistics and construction to put the course in, everything carried in by hand – it took literally days just to haul each of the 8 ziplines into its place in the forest, let alone carrying in all the equipment and tools required for drilling holes in rock for anchors, getting the wires in place and attaching them… then adjusting them all numerous times to get the angles just right so they weren’t too fast (dangerous for stopping) or too slow (it’s best to actually make it to the end after all ;). It exhausts me just thinking about it… turns out the guys weren’t lazy after all, it was just bloody hard work!  They had the help of a couple of other friends at times but for the most part it was just the 2 of them.
As a small kiwi owned and operated business we were super stoked that we were chosen to be included on Men in Kilts… there are a few great connections there – The farmers who manage the land we are on – their surname is Scott – so our first line is called “Flying Scotts” (sign just briefly shown in the show).  Iris Scott has managed this farm (18,000 hectares) for about 30 years after her husband died and at over 75 she has now handed the reins of the farm to her daughter Kate.

Our Operations Manager at the time, Dougie, is Scottish, and we have a bit of a tie with Lord of the Rings as we look out over sights used for filming and Chris has (rather tongue in cheek – he has a bit of a diabolical sense of humour, as well as a diabolical mind for building amazing adventure activities) called our epic down river line (often the favourite one and 200 mtrs long) the “Orc Chasm” – this is the line that Sam and Graham were buzzing about it being amazing on the show.

Swimming with Sharks

Well, this looked terrifying! But in an interview for Emmy magazine, Graham said that he was eager to do this activity! I suppose you’re relatively safe in that cage – it didn’t look like there was an opening large enough for the shark to get in (at least that big of a shark).

On Top of the World!

I can’t believe this was Sam’s first time in a helicopter! And commando, to boot…. brrrr!! But the view was stunning. This was in Milford Sound, one of a trio of sounds that are very popular South Island cruise stops. Here’s a picture of Milford Sound that my son took when his cruise ship stopped there.

photo by Greg Conrad

Next Week

Sam and Graham learn about the Maori, New Zealand’s indigenous population. I’ll bring you some additional information about the language and culture!

And join us on Monday nights live on Instagram to discuss the episode and any other MIK/Outlander news – if you miss it, you can watch the replay anytime! 9 pm eastern/8 central, instagram.com/OutlandishlyTIBS

Outlander Season 5 Trading Cards are on the way! If you still want to purchase, we have some stock still available.
Delivery will be shortly after September 6.

Click here to see what’s available.

Follow me on Twitter: @ErinConrad2 and @Threeifbyspace

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