Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Treewalk to open for night time experience (+video)

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One of Rotorua's newest tourism operations is ready to be lit up at night, just in time for Christmas.

The Redwood's Treewalk attraction officially opened on December 23 last year and at 553m long, the treewalk comprises a series of 23 suspension bridges between 22 redwood trees 12m above the forest floor.

Company director Kellie Thomasen said the Redwoods Treewalk Night Lights experience was a unique opportunity to showcase Kiwi design in a magical natural setting and would provide employment for four or five new staff members, over and above the 10 people already working there.

She said a key highlight of the Night Lights experience was 30 bespoke lights designed and manufactured by New Zealand design and sustainability champion David Trubridge.

"The forms created have the whimsical feel of lanterns lighting a path, floating away into the distance.

"The apertures created between the radiating panels suggest the mottling on a birds wing and create a dynamic pulsing of light as the viewer wanders through the treetops," she said.

The lights range from 1.8m to 2.4m in diameter and 80cm to 2.2m in height.

They are named after koekoea (long-tailed cuckoo), ruru (morepork) and bracket fungus which grows on the trunk of trees.

Some are suspended more than 20m above the ground, others are installed to circle the trees.

"The Redwood forest and Treewalk offers a unique setting for such an installation", Mr Trubridge said.

In addition to the Trubridge lighting, more than 40 LED infinite colour lights are being installed to feature light the 110-year-old redwood trees, the forest ferns and pungas.

"When testing for the layout with only a handful of coloured lights, the illuminated trees and ferns looked like something out of an Avatar movie," Mrs Thomasen said.

"The LED lights are amazing and provide a surreal and an enchanting visual effect.

"The amazing talents of many Rotorua and New Zealand suppliers has enabled this project to eventuate and it will deliver a world-class experience that Rotorua can be proud of."

When finished the total investment into the night lights themselves will be more than $330,000, with just under half of the investment being provided via the Government's Tourism Growth Partnership fund.

Mrs Thomasen said the Night Lights experience would open to the public on December 22 and over summer would remain open until 10pm.

She said there would be special locals only prices and family discounts available.

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