A world-class adventure attraction is set to be developed at Rotorua's Waipa Valley Mountain Biking Hub offering a new activity targeting domestic tourists.
Ropes and Thrills Rotorua will be New Zealand's first aerial adventure park and will be open by December.
It is being built by entrepreneur Alex Schmid, who built the Redwoods Treewalk.
Schmid told the Rotorua Daily Post he'd secured a site at the growing mountain bike hub and was looking for strategic financial and operating partners to join him in the venture.
Either way, he said the development was consented and building would go ahead in October and November - taking four weeks to construct - and would be open for business in December.
The high ropes course will see different levels of thrill-seeking aerial activities designed for those aged 4 through to adults.
Ropes and Thrills Rotorua will see the debut of an internationally patented adventure park system from German manufacturer KristallTurm, which can be designed to include tube slides, giant swings or a walk the plank challenges.
Schmid said the Whakarewarewa mountain biking hub was the ideal location as it was already attracting about 300,000 visitors a year.
He said the attraction would complement the mountain biking activities.
"If you're a mountain biker who has had enough of the dirt for the day but are keen for another adrenalin hit, you can park your bike up and test your vertical limits on the 20m-high wires," Schmid said.
He said children could use the experience with a specially designed "kids' course" providing easy access for children as young as 4.
The idea was to give visitors another reason to visit – and return to – Rotorua, which had long had a solid domestic following, historically responsible for close to two out of every three tourism dollars spent in the Bay of Plenty city, Schmid said.
Schmid said he chose Rotorua as since he built the Treewalk in 2015, Rotorua was now his new home.
Schmid was originally in partnership with Treewalk owner Bruce Thomason, who had now bought him out.
"I have sold my shares in Treewalk but my wife remains a shareholder. The intention was always to set up Treewalk until someone else can take it over. I'm an entrepreneur that's what I do."
He said Rotorua was now his hometown and it was the perfect spot to take on another venture given it was the best domestic visitor destination in the North Island.
Rotorua deputy mayor and avid mountain biker Dave Donaldson said it was great to see people willing to invest in the Rotorua visitor offering at this time.
"I believe it's a smart commercial move given our experience since the pandemic began to be felt here."
He said the development followed several other business investments that had gained impetus from the Whakarewarewa Forest redevelopment project joint funded by the Provincial Growth Fund and Rotorua Lakes Council in partnership with CNI Iwi Holdings.
"It's good to see more jobs being created and I am confident there will be more commercial developments around the forest in the future."
Donaldson said the attraction would add to the mountain bike hub as a destination for outdoor adventure seekers. He had no doubt, with similar businesses located there, they would leverage off each other.
"Just as an observation, along with the already popular Canopy Tours, Redwoods Treewalk and Nightlights, and the proposed Zipline at Okere Falls, Rotorua is fast becoming a globally renowned destination for people who like hanging about above ground in nature.
"We are lucky we have the special environments to support those experiences and much work is going into preserving and enhancing that environment."
Secret Spot owner Keith Kolver said he had met with Schmid and it was an exciting addition to what was already out there.
"When we signed up as a cornerstone tenant it was with the knowledge of the vision that there would be other activities and accommodation providers in the future."
He said that vision was starting to come to life with the Mount Bike Rotorua business, Secret Spot and Trail Kitchen Cafe now operating there.
"What it is creating is the best ... mountain biking experience you can find on this planet and the new business will offer just another place to have your thrills and spills."
Kolver admitted it was brave timing to set up now as some tourism businesses had suffered as a result of the pandemic.
"Some have suffered, some have gone through growth. It's interesting times to be in businesses."