The thrill of tree-top team-building
An adventure course-cum-playground, Adrenaline Forest, opens at the end of next week, and Porirua has one excited Frenchman on its hands.
Jean Caillabet is personally overseeing the construction of the platforms, wires, ropes and nets in the tall pines next to Gear Homestead, and is ‘‘overjoyed’’ that his vision is tantalisingly close to becoming reality.
Mr Caillabet runs an Adrenaline Forest adventure park in Christchurch, but moved to Titahi Bay as his Porirua project neared completion.
He told Kapi-Mana News in February 2009 that the Gear Homestead site was ‘‘absolutely perfect’’ and he stands by that today.
Alternative sites in Lower Hutt and Wellington – such as Mt Victoria – were scoped, but he kept coming back to Porirua.
‘‘This, for me, is so fabulous here, it is my favourite place. The trees are taller, there is no vegetation, little wind and [it is] easy for parking.
‘‘People are going to love it and I think it will be something good for Porirua.
‘‘There were some processes to go through but it has been good, the council have been great to work with.’’
There are six routes and more than 100 challenges interconnected by rope bridges, flying foxes, nets and steps with varying degrees of difficulty, depending on the age, skill and self-assurance of those taking part.
The concept was created in France in 1995 by a retired army officer, and is aimed at team-building days for businesses, schools, community groups, families, tourist parties and individual thrill-seekers.
At the highest point, users of the local Adrenaline Forest will perch 30 metres off the ground, 10m higher than at the park in Christchurch, but at all times will be secured by a safety wire.
Mr Caillabet said it built confidence and self-esteem and that, most of all, people had fun.
‘‘It is going to be the highest and hardest in New Zealand, but anyone can come, of course. It does not matter how fit you are. You are just here for a good time and to test yourself.’’
Speed bumps along the small road, a cabin for an office and briefing area still have to be put in.
He said dead trees had been cleared and the living ones used for platforms had not been harmed at all, with cables not touching the bark. A safety audit will be carried out before the opening.
Whitireia Community Polytechnic outdoor course students will use it regularly and there will be four or five full-time or part-time staff.
Mr Caillabet expects summer to be his busiest time,and is confident of attracting 50 people a day once the word is out through advertising and marketing.
There has been little opposition from residents or the city council. The only objection was from the caterer at Gear Homestead, worried that ‘‘traditional pursuits’’ at the stately home would be compromised.
Mr Caillabet said this concern had been ‘‘smoothed over’’.
He has plans to open another Adrenaline Forest in Tauranga.
Adrenalinefuelled: With infectious Gallic enthusiasm, Jean Caillabet says his latest Adrenaline Forest, next to Gear Homestead, is ‘‘the best yet’’.