If you’re planning a visit to New Zealand’s North Island, stopping by the Redwoods and Whakarewarewa Forest in Rotorua is a must. As some of you may be aware, the Redwoods are mostly found in California. In fact, I saw them in person at the Yosemite National Park and loved how they look so majestic. Therefore, it was a pleasant surprise for me to learn that there were redwoods in Rotorua as well, though they were of a different species. Here’s our experience taking the treetop walk at the Redwoods and Whakarewarewa Forest in Rotorua.
Travelling to Rotorua was pretty straightforward. It’s a 2 hour 45 minute drive from Auckland, or you could fly from Auckland into Rotorua. Justfly offers affordable flight tickets from Air Zealand at about NZD100 if you book in advance. Flying is a good investment especially if you’re looking to save time. Accommodation in Rotorua is affordable too – do check out Karanda Bed & Breakfast if you are looking for options.
Entry and ticket prices
Entry to the forest is free of charge, though I’d highly recommend that you go on the treetop walk as well. There are two options, one in the day and the other in the night. It costs NZD30 for each option and NZD40 for a day and night package. I personally thought that visiting the Redwoods in the day would suffice, but we opted for the package and the walk during the night was beautiful too. To get to the Redwoods, driving is a must. Rest assured that there will be sufficient parking space.
About the treetop walk at the Redwoods and Whakarewarewa Forest
The treetop walk at the Redwoods and Whakarewarewa Forest is 700-metres long – it comprises 28 suspension bridges connected by 27 majestic 117-year-old Redwood trees. According to the park’s website, the treetop walk sits 20-metres above the forest at its peak. The walkway was designed and constructed to preserve the trees and plants around with a special sling technology, comprising bridges suspended from Redwood trees.
It takes about 30 minutes to get from start to end in the day time and 40 minutes in the night time. I strongly recommend that you take a walk through the forest when you are done with the tree-top walk. It’s a different experience – you feel more like a local taking a walk in the forest.
According to Wikipedia, the Redwoods Forest is a forest of naturalised coastal redwood on the outskirts of Rotorua, New Zealand, adjacent to the Whakarewarewa thermal area. The trees were planted at the beginning of the 20th century as part of a programme to assess the viability of various exotic tree species for commercial forestry in New Zealand. Subsequently, these trees have grown faster than in their native homeland due to the richer soil and higher rainfall in the area, reaching over 70 metres in height 100 years later.
Our experience – can you do it if you have a fear of heights?
Going up the tree-top walk is fine – you literally just walk up a spiral plank (see picture above).
I have a mild fear of heights hence it was a tad unnerving as you could literally see the forest ground below. While crossing the bridge, it swayed a little and that made me feel slightly dizzy. But once I looked forward and calmed myself down, I actually did enjoy looking at the ferns and redwoods close-up. I also told myself that the nets lining the sides of the suspension bridge will be there to catch me if I slip. Do remember to keep your phone and belongings safely!
It’s a really authentic experience because you get to see the Redwoods up-close and personal. Compared to the Sequoia trees in Yosemite, the trunks of these Redwood trees were slimmer but taller. To learn more about the different between Sequoia (giant) redwood and coastal redwoods, check out the embedded links.
The Travelling Squid’s Take
I’d definitely recommend that you visit the Redwoods and Whakarewarewa Forest in Rotorua and take the treetop walk. I felt that it brought me closer not only the redwoods, but also the black tree ferns that were in the forest. If you go on a quiet day, you can also spot some birds. If you have some time, do also check out the treetop walk during the nighttime. It’s a different experience, though I must say that I prefer the daytime tree top walk as you can see alot more. After taking the treetop walk, don’t forget to take a walk in the forest as well. It makes for a local, authentic experience, as if you were taking a walk in the forest in your own backyard.