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New Zealand’s first treetop walk to inject $3 million into the Hokitika regional economy each year

New Zealand’s first treetop walk to inject $3 million into the Hokitika regional economy each year
February 27, 2013

Offering "an exhilarating treetop adventure among temperate rainforest giants", the Westcoast Treetop Walk & Café, New Zealand's first treetop walk, is now operational.

Sited on New Zealand's South Island and offering expansive views of nearby Lake Mahinapua and the spectacular mountains of South Westland, the 450 metre long steel walkway is 25 metres above the ground.

Taking about an hour to stroll through, the walkway travels through forest offering unique views of native New Zealand trees and native species such as totara, rimu and kahikatea, and is home to native birds such as the tui, bellbird and wood pigeon.

Its highlight is a steep spiral staircase to a viewing point 47 metre above the forest floor.

The $7.5 million attraction has been financed, developed and is now operated by Australian company Canopy01, which specialises in environmentally sensitive tree walks.

Having opened their first walkway in 1996, the Tasmanian company, headed by Shane Abel and Neil Wade, has designed and built four successful treetop air-walks in Australia.

Keen to extend their expertise to New Zealand, their walkway is sited on 1.2 hectares of Department of Conservation estate.

To be financially successful the venture needs to attract 175,000 visitors a year, or about 8% of the average 2.17 million annual visitors (2007 Tourism New Zealand figure) to the West Coast.

Early visitor numbers have been encouraging, with discounted entry offered to seniors, while the most successful ticket has been a $55 annual pass.

Canopy 01 Directors Able and Wade predict their newest air-walk will inject $3 million annually into the Hokitika regional economy, principally through wages (it currently employs 13 staff) and goods and services.

The attraction, located 15 kilometres south of Hokitika, is pram and wheelchair-friendly and includes the Mahinapua Café, which can seat up to 80, and a gift shop that sells local crafts.

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