Rotorua: Skyline

Skyline is one of Rotorua’s most famous attractions that doesn’t involve bubbling mud or sulphur pools. Located in the charmingly named Fairy Springs just north of the city centre, it comprises several activities, most of which involving going up and/or down bits of the hillside at various speeds and inclines.

To get to the top of Skyline, you first have to pay for the rides you want to go on as well as your gondola ticket. The gondolas are essentially cable cars that take you from the car park at the bottom to all the fun at the top.

View of the gondolas from the car park
Looking back down at the entrance through the grubby gondola window
A view from the gondola further up the hillside

It only takes a few minutes and the views when you reach the top are phenomenal.

Panoramic view of Lake Rotorua and the surrounding township taken from the top of Skyline

Then you get to choose your activity. You have a choice of the Skyswing, the Luge, the Zoom Zipwires and if you’re into mountain biking, there’s a down hill mountain bike track too.

We didn’t try the Skyswing, mainly because although I enjoyed my lunch at The Mess Tent, I didn’t really want to have to see it again as a result of being flung around at breakneck speeds. Clearly created for the adrenalin junkie, the three-seater Skyswing is first hoisted 50m into the air and then hangs there for a moment so you can apparently ‘enjoy the view’. Then when you’re ready, you get to pull the release cord at which point the Skyswing descends rapidly into a full swing during which you can reach speeds of up to a face-melting 150km per hour. If you’d like to watch what it looks like to swing into hell (or heaven depending on your adrenalin preferences), you can click on this link to Skyline Rotorua’s website where there’s a video of the whole ride:

If that wasn’t enough heart stopping excitement, you can don a harness and a crash helmet and fly through a magnificent Redwood forest on the Zoom Zipwire. We didn’t try this either. The lines are 400m long and you can reach speeds of up to 60km as you fly down them. Again, if you’d like to take a peek at what this looks like, you can find a video on Skyline’s website:

Our thrill of choice was The Luge. Now this is my kind of ride. The luges are little 3 wheeled carts fixed with a simple steering and breaking mechanism that means that even children (provided they’re over 110cm and at least 6 years old) can operate them. Younger (or shorter) children between 80cm and 110cm can ride tandem with an adult; this is what I did with my son when we visited 7 years ago. All you have to do is drive them down your track of choice.

Unlike our last visit, I was riding solo as were my daughter and my husband. We picked out our crash helmets (I had to get a children’s one for my freakishly small head) and made our way to the entrance. Once we had climbed down some metal steps, we were given our luge to get into or rather lower ourselves on to; it doesn’t really have sides. After a quick crash course in how to operate them (pull back on the handlebars to break, release slightly to accelerate and let them fall forward completely to stop) we slowly eased our way through a narrow corridor of parked luges to the start of the Tiki Tour track. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, a tiki tour is what us Brits would call ‘the scenic route’ and is as it sounds; the easiest of the The Luge’s 5 tracks.

Get ready………………get set……………

You really can go as fast or slow as you like although I wouldn’t recommend going too slow on the Tiki Tour track as it’s flat enough in places to stop the luge completely which results in you having to try and regain your momentum by repeatedly bouncing up and down. I only paid for one ride but I got the impression that once you got the hang of it, you could really fly round some of the tracks.

In true theme park tradition, there’s a camera waiting at one of the more gentle bends so remember to smile and break at the same time!

Me speeding ahead on the Tiki Tour track………
…….with my daughter and my husband close behind!

To my surprise the photos were only $10 each (around £5) which compared to somewhere like Legoland in the UK where you can expect to pay £15 each, seems like really good value. All you have to do scan your helmet at one of the photo points at the Luge entrance and your photo will pop up.

The Luge also operates at night where all the tracks are lit up with hundreds of coloured LEDs. You can even buy a Family Night Out package which includes 8 Luge rides to share between you as well as a large pizza for afterwards. I am most definitely doing that if we ever go back!

My daughter and my husband arriving at the end of the track

When you reach the end of the track at the bottom of the hill, you get into chairlift (or rather you stand in front of the chairlift and it kind of awkwardly scoops you up on to it) while a staff member hooks your luge onto the back. It’s a peaceful ride to the top and you get to see people speeding down the other tracks as you glide silently by above them.

The chairlifts back up from the bottom of the luge tracks
My husband and daughter on the chairlift after their second luge ride

Cost wise, Skyline isn’t cheap but it isn’t ridiculously expensive either. It’s worth noting that ‘adults’ are classed as 15 and above (hmmm) but at the time of writing, you can get an adult half day pass for $138 (around £69) or a child’s one for $113 (or around £57) which will give you one Skyswing ride, one Zoom Zipwire ride, a return gondola ticket, 5 luge rides and a luge photo.

They offer other combo packages too but if you really can’t face the Skyswing or the Zoom Zipwire, a return gondola ticket and 5 luges ride will set you back $77 for an adult, $50 for a child or $202 for a family of four (2 adults and 2 children) which I still think is pretty good value. At Legoland in the UK you pay £36 (around $72) per person and spend most of the day standing in a mind-bendingly long queue listening to pirate shanties and being appalled at how badly other people’s children (and occasionally your own) can act when bored out of their tiny minds. You’re lucky if you get on two rides. At least at Skyline, you’re guaranteed to go on the activities you’ve paid for and although I would imagine you’d have to queue in the Summer, it was really quiet when we went.

If you want to see how the luge is done properly, check out the video on Skyline’s website:


One response to “Rotorua: Skyline”

  1. Well that looked fun! Not cool enough for Reuben?


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