The Wild Twins’ rocky road to social media stardom

Their limits seem almost boundless now. But just five years ago, it was a very different story as one of them lay in a hospital bed listening to doctors tell her she might never walk again.

When Woman’s Day arrives at the home of twin sisters Amber and Serena Shine, the two stunning redheads who greet us at the door certainly don’t look like your typical mountaineers.

The athletic beauties have become social media stars after sharing their crazy adventures across the globe and in their hometown of Waiuku under the nickname The Wild Twins.

From running the world’s highest marathon on Mount Everest to climbing trees with monkeys in the Amazon and shooting 98kg stags in the bush, the 27-year-olds certainly live up to the “wild” part of their nickname.

“People often don’t believe us when we tell them the stories of the things we’ve done,” laughs Amber, whose day job is working as a civil engineer.

“There are moments when we feel crazy and ask ourselves, ‘Why are we doing this?’ Like if we’ve been hiking for 12 hours, carrying 30kg packs through a snowstorm. But then five minutes later, when you get up to the top, you realise it’s awesome.”

As they pose for photos showing off their rock-solid abs and sculpted arms, the dynamic duo make it all look easy. But just five years ago, they were in a very different position as Serena lay in a hospital bed listening to doctors tell her she might never walk again.

Both girls have sustained their fair share of injuries as a result of their adventurous spirits, but when Serena broke her back in two places after a backflip went wrong while snowboarding, they thought it was all over.

“Before the surgery, they weren’t sure what would happen,” tells Serena, who runs her own glamping business.

“I tried to stay really positive throughout recovery, but I was freaking out when I tried to walk for the first time because it felt like the muscles were jiggling and they weren’t attached to my body.

“In the end, I spent six months in rehab learning to walk again because all I wanted to do was climb Mount Denali with my sister – I wasn’t letting her go without me!”

The mountain in question is part of the Seven Summits, a challenge to trek the highest mountain on each of the seven continents.

Before Serena’s accident, they had plans to take on the Alaskan beast and despite doctors’ initial fears, less than a year after the accident Serena was on Denali tackling -40°C temperatures and winds of 145km/h.

The weather was too bad to complete the final leg to the summit – the one person who did so during the three weeks the girls were on the mountain died – but Serena couldn’t have been happier with her progress.

Grinning, she recalls, “I felt like I was quite literally on top of the world!”

It was that climbing adventure that inspired the twins to start their Facebook page. Serena laughs, “We’re not into technology that much – that’s why it took us so long to do it.”

Amber adds, “It was totally out of our comfort zone at first, but once we got into it, the page started taking off quite quickly.”

Now with over 16,000 followers, some of their most popular posts have seen the girls patting cheetahs, jumping out of planes and deer hunting, as well as sharing their intense workout routines and CrossFit training.

“The coolest part is when people say it’s inspired them to get outside or take the kids hiking,” explains Serena.

Growing up on their parents’ farm in Waiuku, rural Auckland, the girls were constantly outdoors.

Tells Amber, “Television wasn’t a thing in our family when we were young. Any time we’d go missing, Mum would walk out into the paddock and there we were, building a hut or up in a tree.”

After finishing school, the girls trained in the army before moving to Australia to work in the gold mines. After four years across the ditch, they’d saved enough to do more travelling, including spending the next few years working in a Bolivian animal sanctuary and being dog-sled tour guides in Italy.

“We forget the number of things we do until we start talking about it,” admits Serena. “But we prove that women can do anything and there’s definitely a lot more things on our bucket list!”

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