It took us almost a year to use the vouchers I bought from Red Balloon for Christmas, that was no fault of Rotorua Canopy Tours though… that was just us simply trying to lock down a date. I’d decided rather than giving my husband more stuff and things, that I would find a fun and unique experience instead but these sort of things require planning.
When I bought the tickets I wasn’t even 100% sure what the tour involved, I knew it was zip lining which is basically a flying fox right? And I could see from the picture there were platforms amongst the tree tops, so from that decided it would be fun.
The tours are done in groups of up to 10 people at set times, so you can’t just rock up, pre-booking is essential. We opted for a morning session so we could head back to Auckland in plenty of time. After our traditional breakfast a Zippy’s in Central Rotorua we made our way to Rotorua Canopy Tours HQ on Fairy Springs Road, opposite the Skyline gondola.
The team at Rotorua Canopy Tours were super friendly right from the start, and after the ice was broken over a friendly laugh during the weigh in process. The team helped us into our harnesses and we were given a full safety briefing by our guides. Admittedly the term “safety briefing” freaked me out at first, I was filled with dread about having to remember rules and instructions but it was simple and straight forward with the overall theme being “don’t do anything, we’ll do it all for you“. Phew!
I should now add the disclaimer that nobody can see your weight, aside from the one or two people working at Rotorua Canopy Tours… I didn’t even see my own weight.
Aside from the wicked scenery and thrill of zipping through native forest, the best part of the this tour is that they encourage and allow you to take your own pics AND the pics they take during the tour are 100% TOTALLY FREE. Rotorua Canopy Tours isn’t going to try and sell you a pack that includes a key chain or fridge magnet, the day after your tour they will email you a link to download your pics. How’s that for service?!
While Rotorua Canopy Tours HQ is on Fairy Springs Road in Rotorua itself, the zip lining fun takes place at the Dansey Road Scenic Reserve which is about a 10 minute drive away. Calling it a scenic reverse almost makes you think of a road side picnic area, but believe me it’s a whole lot more. It’s a rich and lush forest area that seems almost untouched. During our drive to the reserve, we learnt about our guides and the other tourists on our tour – a young couple from Perth and a family of 5 from Denmark. All the guides at RTC are Kiwi’s and they’re genuinely passionate about what they do and really want to make sure you have a great experience.
The moment we stepped off the van we were in amazing, thick and lush untouched bush, the construction of the various platforms and zip lines hasn’t impacted on the surroundings, it simply feels like they’ve always been there and that they belong there.
On our short walk to the first platform, our guide Cheynne stopped and pulled out a tin of Eclipse Mints … well that’s what I thought initially, but it was actually tiny larvae. Cheynne handed me a single larvae and told me to hold it up and stand very still, and out of absolutely nowhere darted a tiny wee New Zealand Robin, who after quickly assessing the situation zipped past and almost without me feeling it took the larvae right out of my hand. A-MAZE-ZING.
The only sounds in the forest were us and the birds, you couldn’t hear any traffic or sounds of the outside world.
Initially I was worried that this would turn out to be short lived experience, that I’d pay all this money it would be over in minutes.. but the whole experience just over three hours.
Much like the name Rotorua Canopy Tours suggests, takes place in the canopy of the forest, giving you a unique perspective and view of native New Zealand bush. What’s even better is that the tours are operated with an environmental conscience, the company have worked hard to decrease the predator population in the forest and encourage our native birds back the area.
We zipped (literally) from platform to platform launching ourselves off backwards, forwards and upside down from great heights all under the expert guidance of our guides Cheyenne, Jeff and Kris. In total there are 6 individual zip lines, 2 treetop swing bridges and 10 viewing platforms of various heights. You can tell that a lot of time and energy has gone into making this a truly professional tourism venture.
Tui Song is the longest zip line at 220m, and it also leaves from the highest point, a majestic and mighty Rimu tree and the amazing scenery far out weighs any fear or heights. At first when you leap off the platform on the Tui Song kip line you can’t actually see the next platform, you’re literally zipping into the unknown, although there isn’t really too much time to dwell on it. Before you can worry yourself too much you’re already standing firmly on the next platform.
Can you get stuck in the middle? Yes…yes you can. You’ll get stuck in the middle if, you don’t manage to stop at the platform… you simply hit the end and then roll back out. Don’t worry though, a helpful guide will come rescue you, and while you wait, you get to dangle and enjoy more of the scenery. Having just watched a 9 year old girl with a fear of heights get stuck yet remain calm, I knew I had it in me to do the same.
The great thing about the tour, is the brilliant way entertainment and education are intertwined, it’s by no means boring and the leave of passion demonstrated by the team is amazing.
Hands down, I would definitely recommend this.