Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Westcoast Treetop Walk

Yesterday we decided to check out the Westcoast Treetop Walk and Cafe. The name alone should clue you in to the sort of ad-centric nature of the thing. Here in NZ, where you can pretty much step out the door and count on your jaw to drop, I snarked a little about doing this even as I navigated us there.

Any place in NZ that charges NZ $34/US $25 to walk--I know, I know, we chose to do this--reminds me a lot of the US, where doing anything seems to cost something. Plus, to build this on Department of Conservation land made me wonder who greased whose palm (Chicago life showing there, Pippi?). NZ isn't rife with "tourist attractions." This one was built by an Australian eco-tourism company called Canopy01.

Here's the website for what had the potential to be an overproduced theme park, but turned out to be, well, a new view on the natural world.

The walkway is 65 feet up, the tower 150

The walkway leads through the canopy of mature native West Coast forest dominated by rimu at a height of around 20 to 25 metres (66 to 82 ft) above ground. It passes close to the crowns of mature rimu trees and sits well above smaller trees and tree ferns. The loop walk takes in views of the nearby Lake Mahinapua and includes a gently swaying cantilever extending out into the forest canopy. A 47 metres (154 ft)[3] tall steel viewing tower with a spiral staircase offers even more spectacular views over the surrounding forest and northern ranges of the Southern Alps including Toaroha Range, Diedrichs Range and Mt O'Connor, as well as further south in good viewing conditions. The tourist attraction is locally run via a 45-year concession lease[4] from the Department of Conservation NZ.

Some pretty spectacular views up here, looking down and also to the west. Walking this high does change one's perspective, and we enjoyed it.

Very Swiss Family Robinson in a way, the gently swaying path among the trees.

View from the tower stairs.

Flat whites and carrot cake from the cafe conclude the treetop walk. The Queen of Flat Whites is still snarking a little that she didn't spend 50 bucks riding a horse instead. Now that will shift your perspective...

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