You’re flying. Soaring 222 metres across nothing but wild, dense, native, greenery. Massive – no, gigantic – hundred year old trees surround you.
You can’t help but spread your arms out. Hands stretched out like the wings of an eagle. Gliding, observing at such speed, yet taking it all in.
I look up and there is not a cloud in the sky, it’s absolutely breathtaking. The morning fog has disappeared, but it’s still nippy, even in the afternoon.
I can’t see the ground either, which in a weird way makes me feel safer sitting 22 metres above the ground.
I even let out a loud wohoooo. You can’t help it. It’s exhilarating. I want to go again.
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Welcome to the Rotorua Canopy Tours, the four-year-old company that recently won the Air New Zealand Supreme Tourism Industry Award.
Six ziplines spread throughout the forest, in between swing bridges and treetop platforms. There’s only one way to get from A to B, and that’s by ziplining your way across.
Seems daunting at first, but once you get the first one out of the way, you actually start to enjoy it.
It is a three-hour adventure just 10 minutes out of Rotorua through a treasured piece of native forest at the Dansey Road Scenic Reserve.
But it is much more than ziplining.
It’s an educational tour, learning about the native birds and plants that live and grow in the forest. And the bigger problem in helping to protect our native birds and plants from pests such as rats and possums.
The Tui, Kaka, Robin, Tomtit, Bellbirds, Morepork and Kereru that once filled the forest with their chorus.
In our group of 10 we were taken around by our two guides, Jen and Scott, who were exceptional.
They were very professional, yet had so much banter between them, they played off each other during the tour.
I was prepared for the occasion, rugged up in my layers, thermals, beanie, gloves, buffer and jacket. The Canopy Tours also provide jackets, beanies and gloves for anyone who isn’t prepared.
It is deceiving though with the sun out and clear skies, but we are told it is still cold in the forest.
The reserve is government land protected by the Department of Conservation. And while the Canopy Tours have a special license to operate in the forest, part of the zipline cost goes back into the restoration of the forest.
The forest is crawling with possums and rats, destroying native species and their habitat. So in 2013, the Canopy Tours raised $35,000 from the zipline tours for traps. While they were only set in 10 percent of the forest, the team are looking at expanding the area and using more effective and efficient traps.
My favourite part was the environmental walk near the end of the tour. A few robins had been spotted hanging around the area and we were able to feed them.
They are so quick and nippy so we used the slow-mo feature on our phones to capture the little robin flying to my hand and plucking the food.
It was fun to watch and was a hit with the group.
The Canopy Tours are ideal for a family day out or a couples activity.
The exhilarating ziplines keep you entertained in between the strong messages of protecting our environment.
As the sun set, we made our way to the Polynesian Spa.
It was the perfect winter’s night. The air was crisp and the stars were out.
The geothermal mineral hot pools are a well-known spot in New Zealand, and that night was no exception. It was packed.
We sat in several of the seven adult-only hotpools overlooking Lake Rotorua.
After an hour, I was in my robe, ready for my signature mud wrap.
The $179 mud wrap started with a full polish exfoliation with manuka honey. I hit it off with my masseuse, who told me about her adventures working on cruise ships around the world.
I felt very comfortable and relaxed while we chatted away.
Then out came the mud.
It was warm, thick and oozing as she applied it to my back, arms, legs and stomach. She then wrapped my body up like a cocoon before giving me a scalp massage.
Once the mud had set I went into the shower to rinse it all off.
My skin felt like pure silk. It was the smoothest I had ever felt.
She then finished off with a lavender moisturiser, that left me feeling even more relaxed and sleepy.