Jane and Steve visit the California Redwood Forest in New Zealand

Over a hundred years ago, New Zealand was test planting imported trees, to see if any would be suitable for commercial forestry. One of the trees they selected was the California Redwood. When our colleague Jane Cousens was in Rotorua last year we asked to find out if the trees they had planted still existed. What she found was very different to what was planned for them a hundred years ago.

Today, the original 15 acres of these magnificent Californian Redwoods remain where they were planted, near Rotorua in the North Island. In fact, some of them now reach heights of over 230 ft.

Jane, along with her husband Steve, wanted to know more. 

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Let the adventures begin!

The first thing they discover is that visitors from the US especially enjoy these redwoods. Being so "young" at just 100-years, they provide a stunning contrast to the redwood forests of home, where the average age of redwood forests are between 800 to 1500 years old. 

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And they provide great shade cover for the beautiful New Zealand ferns that grow so profusely here.

'The Redwoods', as they are known locally, were never grown commercially in any numbers once the experiment ended. 

However, over the past 100 years years the forest has slowly evolved into a place that now provides one of New Zealand's finest locations for walkers, hikers, horse riders and mountain bikers.

Amateurs and experts from around the world agree that the mountain biking here doesn’t come any better, offering free access to a huge range of scenic forest trails. 

The unbeatable blend of riding surfaces, topography and scenery cater for all skill and fitness levels with more than 70 trails ranging from Grades 2 (beginner) through to Grade 6 (expert) levels.

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Outstanding forest cycle trails.

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 For all levels of bikers.

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From Grade 2 to Grade 6.

But there's more to The Redwoods, as Jane & Steve were about to discover. 

Their next stop was was the award-winning Redwoods Treetops Walk. Half a mile long and ranging between 30 to 60 feet above the ground, this walk provides a unique birds’ eye perspective of the forest below and the treetops above. There are 28 suspension bridges and 27 platforms that take a total of about 40 minutes to traverse. This got a thumbs up from our team.

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The Redwood Treewalk. Suitable for all ages.

Then it was on to their final stop of the day, an experience that had their adrenalin levels going off the dial!  

The 2-hour Redwoods Altitude is designed to showcase even more of the spectacular Redwoods Forest. At a much higher height of 82ft, visitors are guided on an exhilarating journey of ziplines, 25 Indiana Jones style jungle bridges and viewing platforms. 

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Jane and Steve set off on the first stage of the Redwoods Altitude experience.

They were very impressed with the safety aspects of this experience, the professionalism of their guide, her knowledge and her stories about the Redwood Forest history, the native flora and fauna and local Maori legends. 

You can discuss the options for a Redwood Forest with Jane at New Zealand Vacations - [email protected] - She'll direct you to the best choice, from a quiet walk on one of the forest trails to the adrenaline rush of the Redwoods Altitude experience.

Lindsay Barron

Lindsay Barron • Apr 20, 2020