Otherworldly experience

Photo: supplied
Photo: supplied

Tess Nichol enjoys the solitude of a redwood forest, with only a few youthful distractions.

Hell is other people.

Especially if those people are a particularly rambunctious group of teenage boys.

It's testament to the allure of Rotorua's Redwoods treetop walk that even a 15-year-old boy farting on me didn't ruin the experience.

The walk is a spectacular, otherworldly experience - particularly if you go at night.

About a 15-minute drive from the centre of Rotorua when traffic is light, the walk takes about an hour (less if you go at a trot) and is easy enough for kids and those without much base-level fitness.

A treetop boardwalk strung between tall trunks takes you in a wide loop through a grove of redwoods more than a century old.

It's like being in the Roald Dahl picture book The Minpins, which tells the story of tiny people who live among the trees.

Photo: supplied
Photo: supplied

Except in this case it wasn't a fire-breathing beast that had me all het up, but getting stuck behind a class of high school students on a night-time field trip, who were far too excitable for what was supposed to be a tranquil walk.

"Please just try to enjoy the moment,'' a weary-sounding teacher said as the boys posed for another round of Snapchat pictures.

It was during the filming of a Snapchat video that one of them accidentally farted on me.

"I didn't know the lady was behind me,'' he yelped, then ran off to the next bridge without saying sorry.

I managed to shake the group by lingering behind long enough for their loud chatter to retreat, so I could stare up at the intricately designed lanterns hanging from branches above.

Made by Kiwi furniture designer David Trubridge, the lanterns look like warm little alien pods glowing with life, or perhaps like some kind of bewitched wasp's nest.

They were actually inspired by the mottling on a bird's wing and named after our native ruru and miromiro.

Lit up from within, the lanterns made dappled patterns on the forest floor, like flowers bursting open.

It was totally enchanting, and watching the lights fade in and out had a hypnotic quality, casting shadows over the ferns growing thick below.

Ranging from 6m to 12m at its highest point, the 533m loop track in the trees can be taken at whatever pace you like.

Each of the 23 sections of bridge is connected by a viewing platform which curls around the trunk of a redwood. Each platform, which is made to be adjustable so it can grow with the tree over time, features panels of information: about the trees, the bridge, native birds.

Most offer a place to sit, which is a luxury you may not have if you come on a crowded day. However, on a quiet weeknight there was ample time to sit, gaze upward at the stars peeping through the canopy of the trees and reflect on the quiet wonder of nature.

Well, in theory anyway.

At the end of the walk, I managed to catch up with the rowdy teens again.

"That's glow worms,'' one shouted more loudly than he needed to at his friend who was standing very close by.

"No it's not!''

It was only the speckled lights. 

If you go

The Treewalk is open 9am-10pm and the nightlights are turned on at dusk.
Adults tickets cost $25, children are $15.

Tess Nichol is a reporter for The New Zealand Herald

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