How do you slow down when ziplining? (flying fox NZ)

Flying fox NZ experiences are becoming increasingly popular around the world. Climate, forest type, man-made structures, tree-based platforms, and engineering feats all contribute to the unique operation of each experience. At Rotorua Canopy Tours your safety is our number one priority. We have experienced guides who are also highly trained, as well as robust safety systems. So, if you are wondering how you slow down while ziplining, here is how we do it at Rotorua Canopy Tours.

How do I slow down when ziplining?

There are lots of different systems for different ziplines all around the world. At Rotorua Canopy Tours flying fox NZ, we do all the hard parts for you, this includes slowing you down. You simply have one thing to do – relax and enjoy ziplining through the beautiful native forest.

Every tour has two guides that will lead your forest experience. There will be a lead and a tail guide. The lead guide goes down each zipline first and is the ‘catcher’. The tail guide is at the rear of the group and attaches each guest to the zipline and ensures the leave the platform safely.

The lead guide operates the breaking system. This is a basic but very effective system and ensures a smooth ride. The break is infact a block of wood with some ropes and pulleys attached. This allowes the guide to apply friction and slow the zipliner gently as they glide into the platform. We have heard this is one of the smoothest systems people have experienced when comparing it to other zipline breaking systems around the world.


So… who slows down the lead guide you ask?

Our guides are highly trained and they do it all themselves. Having ridden these ziplines hundred of times they are pretty skilled and have their own wee tricks they use on each flying fox NZ. The guides all wear high-quality leather gloves which they can use to slow themselves down. Some spread out like a parachute to slow down. The natural incline of the zipline end also helps the whole process.


How are our flying fox NZ guides trained?

Each guide is goes through extensive training before becoming a flying fox NZ guide. They learn about the zipline cable and how this contributes to ride speed (tension, angle, and slack of the cable), zipliner features (weight, body position and size), trolley bearing speed and the natural environment (wind direction, temperature and rain). It’s a rigorous training program of almost 3- 4 weeks and a minimum of 100 tours (300 – 400 hours) before the art of using the breaking systems are mastered. Some guides become so experienced in braking; they learn to tell the speed of a zipliner by the sound their trolley is making as they come down the zipline. How cool is that?

flying fox NZ

What if your going really, really fast?

For the bigger, faster ziplines on the Ultimate Tour, our guides use mechanical support to slow you down. On our longest zipline (400m tandem), speeds can get above 80km/h for the average adult. We encourage you and your friends to race each other on this one! For this zipline we installed our usual manual braking system, and also added in a system known as a ZipStop – designed by Headrush Technologies.

On our other platforms the lead guide catches and assists our guests onto the platforms, stopping you from rolling back out into the of the line. But, adding an extra line to make this a tandem zipline also meant that the Lead guide would have to catch two people at the same time. That seemed like a big ask when the lines are a few metres apart. So, we installed a nifty capture device. This device that clamps over your trolley and suspends you above the platform until you are assisted down the ladder by your guide.


Can you go too slow on the flying fox NZ?

Yes you can. But it’s not a problem, we found a great soloution. We figured out that simply adding a loop of rope underneath the break block was all we needed. If the zipliner is coming in a little slow, the guide can tell and simply will yell “grab the rope”. The zipliner just needs to reach up and grap the rope, the guide can then just tow you in. Going slow on the zipline can happen to anyone for several reasons. The most common being our lighter folks don’t get quite enough momentum. Or thoes who are having so much fun they act like a human parachute and spread out their wings while flying.


What happens if I miss the rope too?

Don’t fear! If you don’t make it and can’t grab the rope, you’ll be just fine. In fact you are about to witness some of the best views of the tour! You’re likely to slowly roll back towards the lowest point of the zipline (which is the middle) and come to a stop. That’ll be your chance to carefully grab your phone, GoPro or camera and take some photos. Throw the hashtag #stuckonazipline onto those social media posts (just keep a tight grip, there’s a slim chance of finding your device in the dense forest below if you drop it). If that feels too risky, just relax and enjoy the breathtaking scenery from the middle of the flying fox NZ line! Your guide will swiftly be out to rescue you. They’ll earn their keep and put in a bit of hardwork to tow you back into the platform.


Who designed this and how do I know it’s really safe?

 If the hundreds of tours, highly trained guides, tried and tested methods and the mechanical support of our braking systems aren’t quite sealing the deal for you yet. Be rest assured that we have had the experts involved in this from the beginning. Our course and system designer is one of the owners of Rotorua Canopy Tours and is a highly experienced structural engineer, especially in zipline design and construction. We consistently pass safety audits, perform safety checks on all aspects of the braking systems regularly. We ensure everything is replaced well before it is worn so each piece of equipment is always in working order. To top it off our number one core value is safety. All staff coming into the business live and breathe a safety-first culture.

Hopefully I’ve answered all your questions about slowing down while you’re ziplining with us! We can’t wait to have you on tour. Flying throughout our native forest!

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