Photo: Adrian Hodge Photography

Native Species

It’s rare to find an untouched native forest in New Zealand. Many have been logged and regenerated. But once large trees are removed, the eco-system is never quite the same.

The Dansey Road Scenic Reserve is one of the most “alive” forests we have left, and home to countless rare species – more of whom are being discovered every day thanks to our conservation efforts.


The native trees here stand up to 65m tall – as big as you’ll find anywhere in New Zealand. Rimu, tawa and miro form a stunning large canopy and some are over 1000 years-old. Nestled beneath are beautiful tawari, mahoe and kamahi, plus thousands of other small trees, ferns and shrubs. The trees provide a home, food and rich leaf litter for all other creatures to thrive.


Since pest-eradication began in 2013, the native bird population here has flourished. Today it’s quite common to see wood pigeons, tui, North Island robins and fantails flitting amongst the trees. The Department of Conservation has given permission for Rotorua Canopy Tour guests to hand-feed the robins with mealworms – an amazing experience, especially in spring when you can watch the birds fly back to their nearby nests to feed their young. Other birds seen in the reserve these days include hawks, falcons, kaka, bellbirds, morepork, whiteheads, grey warblers, tomtits and both long-tail and shining cuckoos.


Large groups of up to 50 or more long-tail bats have been caught on camera flying within the Dansey Road Scenic Reserve at night. The footage has been verified by the Department of Conservation, and the bats’ unique echo-location or ‘clicking’ sounds can be heard on the audio track. We’re super excited by this discovery because bats are predicted to be extinct in New Zealand within the next 50 years.


Recently one of New Zealand’s rarest lizards made a guest-appearance on a Rotorua Canopy Tour. The striped skink was found on the side of a rimu tree beside the highest zipline platform – seven stories in the air! It just goes to show reptiles can be found anywhere here – not just hidden away in dark corners on the ground.


New Zealand’s believed to have over 30,000 different species of invertebrates (creatures without backbones) and only half of them have been discovered. We’re constantly coming across new things in the Dansey Road Scenic Reserve. Rotorua Canopy Tour staff and customers have already found four spiders that are completely new to science! One of our favourites is the velvet worm, one of the oldest-known things on the planet. This gorgeous guy has been around for 520 million years and is still going strong.


If you picture horrible little mushrooms when you think of fungi, then think again! Fungi provide some of the most breathtaking colours and formations in our forest. Fallen logs and dead wood are now home to New Zealand blue mushrooms and purple coral fungi which hasn’t previously been seen outside of Auckland. Honey fungus is another glorious sight.

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