What shall we do in the holidays? Bet you’ve said that a few times. Well here’s the answer: Take your children to the Rotorua Canopy Tours.
Living in the Bay, we have so many brilliant options for holiday activities right on our doorstep. Rotorua Canopy Tours is a top rated activity TripAdvisor and was half a day of holiday swinging through the canopy of a native forest on zip lines. Basically, you’re a monkey. It was brilliant.
I packed my children and a picnic, and headed down to the Canopy Tours HQ on Fairy Springs Road (almost opposite the gondola).
We were rigged up with harnesses and driven by our two guides Scott and Scott, to the Dansy Road Scenic Reserve, where the zip lines are set up.
You do a 1.2km loop through the forest on a mixture of zip lines, swing bridges and on foot. There are two aspects to the tour. One is the adventure side: being hooked up to a zip line, hanging from a rope, and flying 220 metres through ancient, untouched native forest to a small platform attached to a tree. To be looking at the forest from such a different vantage point was so absorbing. I could have done it 20 times and still found something different to look at.
The other aspect is the conservation work that’s being done by Canopy Tours to bring back native birds and wildlife in the forest.
James Fitzgerald and university mate Andrew Blackford set up Canopy Tours in 2012. They had a vision of wooshing through treetops having done it elsewhere in the world. They leased an area of land from the Department of Conservation and used a potato gun to launch their first nylon zip line. Standing still, they realised it was really quiet in the forest. Which wasn’t right. Possums and rats and stoats were ploughing through animals including native birds. James and Andrew have taken it upon themselves to regenerate the native birdlife in the forest to such an extent that they are winning awards all over the place for their conservation efforts. And tellingly, they won the supreme award in the 2016 New Zealand Tourism Awards.
We had an Australian family in our group, who told us that possums are seen pretty differently in Australia where they are herbivores. The Kiwi possums have developed into omnivores, and all the extra protein in their diet means many are the size of small dogs, and are serious predators.
I won’t ruin Scott and Scott’s talk by telling you everything now, but they are passionate about conservation. As well as running the tours, they also do much of the conservation work in the forest. One of them was from Tauranga, and one from Rotorua. They were kind and friendly to our children, and like so many of the other people working in the tourism industry, they genuinely enjoyed their job.
Our verdict? It was a big thumbs up from us. Do it!
What you need to know
Duration: 3 hours from arriving at the office to being dropped back
Adrenaline-ometer: it all sounds scary, but it wasn’t. It was more awe inspiring than scary. We had children as young as six on our group and they were totally fine.
What to wear: it was a bit cooler in the forest than the city, so wear an extra layer.
Top tip: rent a GoPro from Canopy Tours, and record your fun. You get a card with all your videos on. And definitely take your phone to record each other stepping out into a world of green!