Luging and Zipling at Skyline Rotorua

What’s a trip to Rotorua without a cheeky Luge ride? Admittedly, we took one tiny ride in the downhill go-karts during the Crankworx Festival when we first arrived in the city. It was just there tempting us as we wandered around the mountain bike festival taking place at the bottom of the Skyline Gondola. We first found out how stupidly fun Luging was when we took the gondola in Queenstown all those months ago(!!) However, the Rotorua Luge tracks are longer, steeper and there are more of them! Let’s get up that gondola, already!

The Gondola ride above Rotorua

We arrive on Day 294 of this epic 365 Days: 365 Activities at the bottom of the Skyline Gondola. Tickets acquired, we board the capsule and take our trip up Mt Ngongotaha. We slowly move higher up the mountain with plenty of time to take in the views of Rotorua city, the massive Lake Rotorua, and Mokoia Island which sits in the middle of the lake. The windows of the gondola capsules open so we can get unobstructed photos, as well as unobstructed views of the deer currently grazing right underneath us! Downhill mountain bike tracks also wind their way down the hill until they are hidden from sight within the pine forest. You can check out more about these mountain biking tracks in our post about the Crankworx Festival.

So many options!

Once to the top, we hop out as un-clumsily as possible for those not well-versed with gondola transportation, then we have a wealth of activities to before us. Skyline has a cafe/bar, the Skyswing, a Jelly Belly store, Zoom Ziplines and of course, the Luge. Because we have been catching up on so much work (doing 365 Days of 365 Activities really gets in the way of work sometimes), we have arrived at Skyline with about 2.5 hours before closing time. Quick! We need to do as much as possible and fast!

Mesmerised by the views on the way up the gondola Mesmerised by the views on the way up the gondola
Making our way to the Zoom Zipline Making our way to the Zoom Zipline
Hold on! (or not) Hold on! (or not)
Does this zipline ever eeeeeeeeeeend?! Does this zipline ever eeeeeeeeeeend?!

Taking on the Zoom Zipline

Speaking of fast, we opt for the Zoom Zipline, a 383m zipline that can potentially take us up to speeds of up to 80km/h! We head to the Zoom Zipline hut, get weighed and harnessed for a zip through the redwood forest. Our zipping guide, Sean, takes us down a path alongside one of the Luge tracks and to the start of two mighty-long wires suspended high above the Luge tracks and the forest. The awesome thing is that we can do the zipline two at a time. Although we have no control over the zipline, other than gravity we guess, we are still considering this a race!

Sean attaches our harnesses to our ziplines so that we are in a pretty comfortable sitting position. He goes through the necessary safety rules before getting to the good stuff. All we have to do is sit back, lift up our legs before we hit the end, and wave our arms in the air like crazy flying people.

One word: Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

The gates before us open… 3… 2… 1… Wahoo!!!!

We’re flying high above Rotorua, gathering speed and momentum, until… Laura leaves Robin behind! This ain’t right?! Looks like someone needs to lose some weight is she is speeding down the zipline faster that her man who’s two heads taller, and, you know, a dude!

Nevertheless, we’re pulling all kinds of shapes, the trees getting closer and closer to us until we are in the forest and some ziplining staff are at the end giving us the signal to pull our knees up and heads back. We come to a reasonably quick stop, then the ziplining guys can detach us from the zipline and release us into the forest. Now we take a chairlift above the Luge tracks giving us a taster of our next activity.

A downhill Luge race

Once we have given our equipment back, we are grabbing some sexy Luge helmets and the competition begins! We have five runs of the Luge to do and two competitive backpackers. Who will win race by Luge?!

For the first run on the Luge, you always have to do a practice run either on the Scenic or Intermediate track. We jump straight to the Intermediate once we are taught how to control our Luge carts – it’s a simple pull-back on the handlebars to brake and release to let gravity tack you down the hill.

No Luge ride is complete without a bright and shiny helmet No Luge ride is complete without a bright and shiny helmet
The race is ON! The race is ON!
He's behind you! He's behind you!

Advancing to the Advanced

The Intermediate takes us on a downhill track of sharp turns through a mix of redwood and native forest. There are steeper gradients to gather speed and plenty of signs to tell you when you’re about to hit a corner so you can slow down. Soon enough, we gather enough confidence to hit the Advanced track!

Robin wins the first race, but he will not be so lucky on the second, the third, and not the fourth and fifth (Laura hopes).

Once we get a taste for the Advanced track there is no turning back. This one has some gnarly corners, even getting some sideways action around corners. If we go fast enough over the some of the steep drops, we swear we can get some air! (Although that might have just been in our heads, thinking we are more awesome than we actually are).

There are no losers at BackpackerGuide.nZ… (right, guys?)

By the fifth round, Robin has demolished Laura in the Luge so we end our afternoon at Skyline 1-1. No one will be allowed to brag tonight.

It’s back to the Base hostel for us for an evening of relaxing in the hot pool. Join us tomorrow where we will be seeing kiwi chicks and learning more about conservation at Rainbow Springs!

Laura and Robin

One last Luge ride on our crazy gap year in New Zealand
One last Luge ride on our crazy gap year in New Zealand Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Want more?

Why wouldn’t you? Get your eyes on these articles!

Until tomorrow’s blog post, get yourself on HerePin and follow our local recommendations. We also like to hang out on Facebook and post pretty pictures on Instagram.

See you tomorrow

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