The "Swoop" bungy ride at Agroventures, near Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand.
Five silly Kiwi adrenaline activities in one spot outside Rotorua, New ZealandAgroventures Rotorua
Tour length: ~ 3 hrs. (each: 20–40 min.)
Tour times: 9am–5pm.
Tour cost: Each activity: NZ$39–NZ$49/US$31– US$38 (bungy: NZ$95/US$75);
For all activites: NZ$220/US$174.
1335 Paradise Valley Road
» On Route 5 just west of Lake Rotorua (down the street from ZORB)
Tel. +64-(0)7-357-4747, toll free in NZ 0800-949-888
Tip: Wear comfy, loose-fitting clothes.
Tip: Don't have a big breakfast.
Agroventures is the most thoroughly Kiwi of theme parks: Every ride is a technologically advanced way to spike your adrenaline though the roof and/or test the limits of most iron of stomachs.
Put it this way. Halfway though my morning there, just after the jetboat slalom course, I had to pause to take a breather in the welcome center, groaning on a sofa, covered in flop sweat, sipping a Coke, and debating which potted plant I was going to deposit my breakfast in. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that and I was able to move on to the pseudo-skydiving station.
Notice I call these “adrenaline activities,” not “adrenaline sports.” As much fun as they are, most of these are not a sport in that most involve no skill whatsoever.
In fact, for the most famous and popular of the activities—like bungee jumping—you are essentially a dead weight. Your entire job is to just sit there and scream. Fun? Well, that depends on your definition, but: yeah, it’s fun. A sport? Nah.
The original Kiwi adrenaline activity, the thing that put New Zealand firmly on the map of places with where stupid young men go to do the kinds of things that stupid young men like to do (Hi, nice to meet you!).
The platform is 43 meters (141 feet) off the ground. There is a massive glorified rubber band attached to your ankles. Now just turn off your internal self-preservation drive and dive head first toward the ground.
Plummet. Scream. Slow. Reserve. Slow. Repeat.
Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy. And…. You’re done.
World’s most sadistic swing set. This is like bungee jumping but with radial motion.
You and up to two buddies (this one’s better with a friend of two) are placed into a giant sling lying face-down on your bellies. The sling is attached to a rope, the other end of which is attached to a crane 40 meters (131 feet) above you. Keeping the rope taut, the sling is winched through a slow, 90-degree arc until you are level with the crane.
You then play a game of supersonic pendulum as you pull the sling’s ripcord and rocket through a magnificent arc, swooping down-down-down then suddenly up-up-up, reaching speeds of 130 kph (80 mph) and pulling up to three Gs.
Swoop involves lots of screaming and squealing, though whether in fear or delight, it’s hard to say (I’m guessing an 80/20 proportion).
This is the classic New Zealand jetboat ride -- only instead of doing it up a river, you do it on an artificial pond, complete with obstacles to swerve around and 360-dgeree donuts to carve at speeds of up to 100kph (62mph).
The object -- aside from pulling some G-forces -- seems to be to perform sweeping hockey stops near the sidelines so as to douse onlookers with sheets of water. Either that or to make me hurl.
This is what passes for a calm, practically sedentary activity at Agroventures. It is also, perhaps, my favorite. You put on a flight suit and goggles, lie on top of a gigantic fan, and attempt to fly. It’s like skydiving without the plane or the parachute (or the long drop).
You get about 90 seconds to try and master the maneuvers (handlers stand to the sides to push you back onto the upward jetstream should you float off center), and if you are really good -- and don’t weigh as much as some of us -- you can get as high as 4 meters (13 feet) up.
Also: you have an awesome hairdo afterwards.
Schweeb consists of a pair of 200-meter-long (656-foot ) monorail tracks looping around a patch of grass and ponds about two meters off the ground. From the tracks dangle a series of recumbent bicycles encased in clear capsules. Very City-of-the-Future-looking.
In fact, this was actually developed as a working prototype for a novel new public transportation method, and has even landed some Google fianancing to build a test project.
Pedaling furiously, you rocket down the track, reaching thigh-burning speeds of up to 45 kph (28mph) and, on the outside curves, swinging out at a 60-degree angle. Just don’t use it all up on the first lap, as there are still two laps to go. When you get out, your legs feel like jelly--and kind of act like it too for the first few steps.
You can go for time trials, but it’s much more fun to race against someone directly. Just watch out for the ducks.
Costs & details