Hokitika Rimu Treetop Walk progress
Fairfax reports that construction of New Zealand’s first treetop walk could begin in March. Australian eco-tourism company Canopy01 is planning on a DEC12 opening of the 450m Hokitika Rimu Treetop Walk after consents were granted late last year. The $7.7 million aerial walkway would be suspended about 25m above the forest floor, offering visitors views of native bush and Lake Mahinapua.
It would end in a spiral staircase to a Southern Alps lookout tower, 47m high. Canopy01 director Neil Wade told Fairfax he was pleased the project had gained a 45-year concession lease from DoC to develop and operate the steel walkway on 1.2 hectares of conservation land in the Lake Mahinapua Scenic Reserve, about 15km south of Hokitika. The Westland District Council also gave resource consent for the treetop walk, which included a visitor carpark on nearby private farmland, with a 100-seat cafe, craft outlet and interpretative installations.
The proposal had gained strong community support, with Westland Mayor Maureen Pugh welcoming the project as a major boost to the district’s tourism as it tied in well with a planned cycle trail.
The company, which had developed treetop walks in Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales, believed the project would each year inject more than $7m into the local economy and attract 175,000 visitors. It predicted it would employ 10 to 15 fulltime equivalent staff in summer to operate the