My first stop in Rotorua was the Skyline Gondola and luge attraction. I was slightly nervous about the luge as I’m a a bit of a nervous driver and a bit of a control freak, but so many people told me I had to try it I couldn’t turn down the opportunity… I jumped off a cliff the day before for goodness sake! The gondola and one luge was $43 NZD and the gondola and 3 luges was $49 NZD (about £28). I decided to go for three as $6 was not a lot to waste if I didn’t like it.
I stepped into my own gondola and spent the next 5-10 minutes rising up the mountain. I must admit the view was not quite what I had hoped… there was a nice view over the mountains but Rotorua is not actually that nice of a city to look at from above, so the view was quite spoilt by a rather industrial looking foreground. I am told the Skyline in Queenstown is much better with amazing views and a slightly better luge too so if I ever make it to the South Island I’ll be sure to check that out.
The activities at the top of the mountain were far from disappointing though and very well organised. I stopped and watched the Skyswing as it catapulted it’s riders 50 metres through the air. There are many other activities here including BMX bike tracks, zip-lining and much more if you are interested. I would have loved to have done the zip lining, but my budget was limited so I had to leave it for another day.
I then headed straight to the luge, grabbing an appropriately sized helmet from the troughs as I passed and joined the queue. At the front I had my ticket punched for the first time, was given a quick driving lesson … pull back to stop and forward to go, and told to head down either the scenic or intermediate track for my first time.
I headed down the scenic track, which is basically the beginners track, but with a less condescending name! It was very easy to steer and brake and I laughed nearly the whole way down. There were no random mushrooms wandering about in the road and it was much harder to fall off the edge of the track, but I couldn’t help feeling like I was driving along a Mario Kart track.
At the bottom you pull your luge on to a conveyor belt and get in the chairlift back to the top. The luges use an automatic system where the clip on to the bottom of the chairlift seats to be transported back to the top. I enjoyed the chairlift ride more than the gondola ride in fact as you can see the luges zipping by as you ascend.
Back at the top I had a quick look at my first photo at the booth and gave them my name so they could all be saved together so I could pick the best one. I was straight back on the luge like an excited child on Christmas Day and this time headed down the intermediate track. This was more winding and you could build up a bit more speed here. Lots of fun and I laughed out loud on several occasions.
Once more up the chairlift and I was back down the intermediate track for my final ride. There was an advanced track but this seemed to be attracting a lot of young men who looked like they might not appreciate me holding them, up so I stuck with the intermediate. Back at the top for the final time I purchased my favourite photo for $10. For this I got the printed version and the online download so I could share it with my friends who had recommended it to me straight away. Just time for a last look around before I took the gondola back down to the car park feeling very contented after a lot of fun.
Start slowly and build up your confidence. Be prepared to let faster riders pass you and don’t attempt to overtake slower riders unless it is safe to do so.
Don’t go just for the gondola ride… you will be disappointed. I probably wouldn’t recommend this if you are not going to ride the luge or partake in other activities.
My visit lasted a couple of hours but if you plan on taking part in more activities or wish to chill out in the cafe you can make a half day out of it.
I didn’t pre-book my tickets and as it was a weekday it was quite quiet. If you wish to pre-book though you can do so at http://www.skyline.co.nz/rotorua/ where a range of ticket types for multiple activities are available, as well as child and family tickets.