I shuffle my toes over the edge of the wooden platform and cast a nervous eye over a canopy of ponga ferns spread like bright green umbrellas on a crowded beach.

The silver ferns, kauri and rimu extending their limbs out to one another are special to see from
this height.

Our guide Gary points out a rare North Island robin, reaches into his trouser pocket, pulls out a grub and whistles. The robin flutters over, snaps up the bug and darts off. 

I’m in Rotorua’s Mamaku Forest. Well, attached to a platform built around a 1,000-year-old kauri and more than 40 metres above ground, to be exact.

The untouched scenic reserve is one of very few areas left as Maori would have experienced more than eight centuries ago. I take it all in, letting my mind venture back to a time when people were first here.

Two children leap off the platform before me; I tell myself I shouldn’t be scared of flying through the air on a zipline. If they can do it, so can I. 

My sister Kerry and I have come to the adventure-packed, lake side town for a girls’ getaway. We plan to see, smell and taste our way around Rotorua while squeezing in a bit of relaxation and adrenaline-fuelled fun.

Joining Canopy Tours, a series of ziplines through bush, is the perfect way to wake up our senses. It leaves us wanting more adrenaline, so we decide to head to Agroventures to push our limits further. RotoruaIP

I’m not big on fast rides; I’m a girl who likes her feet on solid ground. So, believe me when I say a trip to one of New Zealand’s most thrilling adventure parks that boasts rides called ‘Freefall Xtreme’ and ‘Swoop’ is a big deal.

Thankfully, Kerry is a supportive sister. After much encouraging, we try New Zealand’s only Freefall Xtreme.

I lie face down on a trampoline of netting and a massive fan blowing 200km winds cranks up below me. Then, I’m flying.

It’s the same sensation as free-falling from a plane, apparently.

It’s time for a blat on the Agrojet. On a man-made lake that doesn’t look big enough for tricks, we board a jet boat, buckle up, and within the blink of an eye are launched into 100km speeds.

We probably shouldn’t have told the driver we’re originally from Hamilton because he finishes up with a 360-degree donut that “you ‘Tron’ people will be used to.” 

We make Skyline Rotorua our next stop; we’ve heard the Volcanic Hills wine tasting and Stratosfare Restaurant at the top are a must. After overindulging, we wander down Eat Streat, a buzzing strip of bars and restaurants and meet a local who suggests we visit her business, Adventure Playground, if we have time.      

The morning dawns clear and we go off in search of lunch. There’s a healthy assortment along the main strip but we’re in the mood for a more traditional bite. Sweet corn, kumara, potato, pumpkin and chicken are on the menu at Te Puia, where the food is cooked underground at 98oc in a steam box. Nature’s a pretty phenomenal force when you can utilise underground geothermal activity to cook a meal.

Then we head to Adventure Playground for a thrilling 4WD buggy ride, some clay bird shooting and a horse trek. Sitting atop my horse, Molly, gently nudging her underbelly with my heels to encourage her along, I cast my gaze out across the still lake. I am filled with a sense of freedom. I’m tempted to loosen Molly’s reins and make for the hills, just to stay in this beautiful part of the country for longer.

Reported by Monica Tischler for our AA Directions Winter 2019 issue

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