New Zealand has always been the adventure capital of the world, with an activity to cater for everyone, and the North Island town of Rotorua is no exception to this. Amongst the biking and hiking trails, and the rapid Kaituna River (with the highest commercially white water rafted waterfall in the world), sits the sleepy giants of the Redwood Forest.
Normally, when someone mentions a redwood forest, your mind wanders to images of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, but their younger cousins here in New Zealand are starting to steal the show.
The redwood forest in Rotorua is over 115 years old and is made up of Californian Coastal Redwoods and Douglas Firs. The crowning glory here is the Redwood Treewalk, which spear heads a new kind of eco-tourism in the area.
The area has a full collection of trails; from short 20 minute jaunts, to sections where you could get lost all day. As you venture into the forest, you are met by sunshine piercing through the canopy and striking the sides of the vast redwood tree trunks. Imagery which provides a magical atmosphere to walk around and an abundance of photo opportunities.
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The Redwood Treewalk itself consists of a series of swing bridges suspended from 12m to 20m above the ground, forming a circuit 553m long around 22 colossal and awe-inspiring redwood trees. The Treewalk was based on the idea of a German engineer who wanted to provide an ‘accessible low-level adrenaline experience’ that showcases the beauty of the forest and allows people of all ages to gain a different view of the trees other than just at base level.
Each suspension bridge varies in length, with four long ones covering the distance over the car park and then over a forest opening. In total, there are 23 bridges connecting to 22 circular decks surrounding the redwood trees. Throughout the decks are a variety of information posts teaching you about the growth of the tree and providing some interesting facts, a really fun way to combine a thrilling height experience with some amazing information that is easily relatable to the forest in front of you.
Although it is perfectly safe, for those with a fear of heights (I can personally attest!), it does give you a real thrill when you feel the movement in the bridges. Consequently, there is a limit to the number of people on each bridge at a time, and the number of people on the whole circuit to make sure it that there are no safety risks.
At night time though, is when the Treewalk really comes into its own. David Trubridge, a world acclaimed Kiwi designer, led the charge on providing a number of hand-made art work lanterns up to 2.5m in length that are hung at various points and levels throughout the section of forest. These are accompanied with multiple other lighting displays that make a night time journey around the bridges as captivating as any night spent staring up at the stars.
No trip to Rotorua is complete without coming to visit this tree top view of the Redwood forest, so make sure you plan it in to your itinerary as a great evening activity to soak in the atmosphere of the Kiwi wildlife.
The only requirement is that you are able to walk, as there is only access to the canopy via stairs. The youngest adventurer so far was 18 months and the oldest, 97 years old, so it really does cater for all of the family! Younger children need to be in a stroller, of which two are available to use on site.
Comfortable clothing is all that is needed, but make sure that you dress to the weather, there is some protection with the trees but it is still outside!
The Tree Walk is 5km south east of Rotorua on Long Mile road, next to the Whakarewarewa Forest.
All prices in NZD
Day Time Adult / Child / NZ Senior Citizen / Under 5 / Family (2 adults and 3 children)
$25 / $15 / $15 / Free / $69
Evening Adult / Child / NZ Senior Citizen / Under 5 / Family (2 adults and 3 children)
$25 / $15 / $15 / Free / $69
Day and Evening Combo Adult / Child / NZ Senior Citizen / Under 5 / Family (2 adults and 3 children)
$35 / $22 / $22 / Free / $99
If you are an extremely fast walker you can go around in 10 minutes, but you will not have any time to enjoy it. So I would recommend around 30 minutes for the day time with reading all the information posts and around 40 minutes in the evening to allow plenty of time to enjoy the night lights.
For anything else feel free to go check out their website!