Canopy Tours rises above doomsayers

By Matthew Martin

1 comment

Before opening their new tourism venture Rotorua Canopy Tours directors James Fitzgerald and Andrew Blackford were given all the reasons why it would fail.

"Rotorua is too competitive, we won't get permission, have you heard of the recession, there's no market for it, it'll take two years for anyone to pay us any attention, were some of the things I was told,'' Mr Fitzgerald told The Daily Post.

Now he can happily tell the doomsayers they could not have been more wrong.

"I guess people underestimated or misunderstood what we were doing because none of those [reasons] have proven true so far.''

Since opening Rotorua Canopy Tours in August, 3000 people have taken a ride through virgin native forest near Mamaku. The almost three-hour tour takes people on a journey from forest floor to forest canopy on an incredible network of walking trails, treetop platforms, ziplines (flying foxes) and swing bridges.

"The numbers started off slower than I had hoped, but we have now caught up and it's gaining momentum at a hectic pace.

"Word of mouth is going crazy.

"We are finding it has mass appeal _ groups from all over Asia already booking, corporate groups, inter generational families, work functions, travellers, tons of Aucklanders, honeymooners, cruise ships, coach tours _ people aged between 5 to 85 have been through so far.''

Mr Fitzgerald said forward bookings suggested it would be busy summer.

Each year Mr Fitzgerald said the company would contribute about $20,000 to a Forest Enhancement Fund which will eradicate all predators from the 500ha area and reintroduce birds that once flourished in the forest.

The team at Rotorua Canopy Tours are  aiming to establish themselves as the premier eco-tourism adventure company in New Zealand.

"We have some innovative plans for both Rotorua and elsewhere _ bigger, longer, deeper, darker, higher, but all very secret.''


- Rotorua Daily Post

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