Zipline Rotorua: From the beginning



Canopy Tours zipline Rotorua had a vision: to offer a lifechanging encounter with the natural world that would delight both international visitors and inspire New Zealanders.

The forest would provide the magic setting – the zipline Rotorua, swing bridges, cliff walkways and other features were simply a way to experience it.



So, keep reading, because here it is – the story about how a vision became a business, and how the business became a sought-after icon….


Canopy Tours has been working to restore the forest since the beginning and now have over 250ha trapped. This photo is of the pests that were removed on just one of th nights. 

James and Andrew spent months building the zipline in Rotorua and had to be think outside the box to achieve their goals. Here is the spud-gun they used to shoot the lines across the forest. 

In 2016 James and Andrew were delighted to celebrate receiving tourism’s highest award.
James (left), Chris Roberts – TIA Chief Executive (centre), Andrew (right).

Demand grew and in 2018 we opened the Ultimate Canopy Tour which included never seen before features

In 7 years the team at Rotorua Canopy Tours quickly expanded and now have over 60 staff!

How the journey began

It all started in 2008 with James Fitzgerald, a young guy with a bold vision and his buddy, engineer Andy Blackford. James’ vision was to create a visitor experience that was so removed from the real world that it would become the most premium and sought-after experience in the whole of New Zealand. An experience so bold that adventure, education, conservation, natural beauty and people would collide to create an experience with no peers…

So, they got to work….

They found a piece of stunning native forest that had stood for centuries just on the outskirts of Rotorua. They worked for months hauling in timber and supplies through the forest and high up into the canopy, and with the help from friends and locals they built the zipline Rotorua, and in 2012 shared it with the world.

The customers started slow (with the first ones being bribed by free pizza), and then as word got out more turned up, then more, then more, then more. So many that within 6 years the team had grown from 3 to 60!


Today – 9 years on…

And so, 9 years on since Rotorua Canopy Tours opened the doors, we can claim to have ticked all the boxes, won every award, delighted 10,000’s of people, restored a forest and delivered on this far sighted vision.

Today, under inspirational leader, Paul Button, the business continues to provide outstanding experiences every day for those people that choose to become part of the Rotorua Canopy Tours experience. Customers are still buzzing out; the media are still writing stories and awards are still rolling in. But, the two kiwi mates, James and Andy, have never lost touch of what Rotorua Canopy Tours is all about.


How Did They Build It?


So, come and be part of the zipline Rotorua story, create your own memories and judge it all for yourself!



Canopy Conservation

While building the ziplines James and Andrew were stunned by the silence! This was a native forest and should be ringing with bird song!

Canopy Tours is not only a zipline but an incredible and inspirational story of tourism restoring nature!


 Our Awards

Since the beginning we have set out to deliver a world class experience.

We are incredibly proud of the achievements we have received for our outstanding zipline Rotorua visitor experience and conservation efforts.


Meet the Team

Our team of zipline guides and customer experience experts are a bunch of highly engaged people with a passion for the outdoors, and we all absolutely love our jobs!

So, why don’t you get to know our team….









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Our Team





Our Awards



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