Rotorua Canopy Tour, Dansey Road Reserve

I'd like to say that I was flying like a bird but I suspect that swinging like a trussed and somewhat overweight chicken would be a more accurate description. Whatever the vision, the Canopy Tour is a soaring experience – little heart-stopping for those of us with acrophobic tendencies but thrilling none-the-less. Basically we whizzed along six zip lines (a network of 1.2 kilometres) that are strung through the tree tops in Rotorua's Dansey Road Reserve, and then bounced across two swings bridges – one with hand rails and one without. This might well have put the fear of the Almighty into me if it wasn't for our guide, Gary Coker, who not only inspired confidence but made sure that my harness would never fail. At all times I was attached to something, and the safety briefing was impressive, the warnings stern. "At no time do you touch the metal clips that connect your life-lines to the wires," he announced. No need to tell me. I would touch nothing except what I need to cling to for dear life. It was pride and fear of failure that launched me from the first platform. My logical mind knew that I was securely attached to the wire above me and that my landing pad was a sturdy platform firmly wrapped around a 500-year-old rimu tree, but deep in the most primitive abyss of my brain is a just-as-firmly embedded message: Do not jump into thin air when you are 22 metres above the forest floor. And yet, by the fourth and most daunting zipline (220 metres-long) the fear had almost gone. By the sixth, I could swing through trees upside down – sort of. I wanted to do it all again. Just as impressive is the conservation efforts that the company employs for the restoration of this pristine bit of forest. The intention is to restore wildlife to the 500 hectares of the reserve by removing all pests. The 500 humane traps that have been set along a 10-kilometre trapping line have already meant birdlife is beginning to return to this once silent forest. The next phase is to expand this procedure over 200 hectares and in 2016, to the whole 500 hectares. The traps are sponsored by individuals and businesses. A portion of the cost of the canopy tour also goes into this conservation effort. So if I go back in a couple of years there is every chance that, trussed chicken or not, I will be up there with a lot of birds. Jill Malcolm is a former editor of Motorhomes Caravans & Destinations and author of the Great Kiwi Motorhome Guide.
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