Luging in Rotorua

by Anders Bruihler / Apr 10, 2013 / 0 comments

I race down the concrete track, wind tearing by my face. Trees whiz by as I accelerate down the hill, gripping the handlebars tightly. A turn approaches from up ahead. I lean into it, and come out perfectly. I see a sign that says “Merge!” where another run joins into this one. Next I go through a tunnel, and several other signs warn “Slow Down!” The track narrows to a third of its old width, and I bounce off the wooden bumpers a couple times as I navigate the last bends. I reach the end and navigate my cart onto a conveyer belt, stand up, and walk to the chairlift.  I hop on, and look back up the big hill.  I can’t wait to go again! 

Luging in Rotorua

No, I’m not biking, or go-karting, or whatever else you might guess. I’m at the Skyline Luge in Rotorua, New Zealand. Described as a part toboggan, part go-kart, it’s an exhilarating gravity-powered ride down the side of a small mountain. You sit up in a small cart with your legs extended, and a handlebar lets you turn and brake. It’s the best fun I’ve had in eight months of travel. 

Initially, you buy your tickets at the bottom, but you can always get more up at the top if you want. After you take the gondola up the hill, there is a lot to do.

Luging in Rotorua

As well as the Luge, you can take a ride on the giant swing or watch a movie in the 4-D movie theater if you like more adventure. Or you can go look in one of the souvenir shops if you wish. There’s even a Jelly Belly store with Jelly Belly mosaics and a wall lined with dispensers of all flavors of mouthwatering Jelly Beans. 

Jelly Belly store, New Zealand

Or you could have lunch in the restaurant or cafe and enjoy the view. 

luging, Rotorua, New Zealand

The Luge was opened in Rotorua in 1985, and today there are three tracks of 2, 1.7, and 1 km in length. At the start point you hop into the small cart.

Luging start point, Rotorua

Luging start point, Rotorua

The Scenic (easy) track takes you on a tour of the woods, with several places to pull over and take a picture. 

Rest stop while luging, New Zealand

There’s even a couple of life sized dinosaur statues! 

Dinosaur statues, while luging?!

Then you get to bottom and take the chairlift up.

The Intermediate and hard tracks are much faster and more fun. When we were on the chairlift we saw this other luger below. 

Luging in New Zealand

And here I am going to start again!

Luging, New Zealand

A couple of times one side of my cart lifted off the ground on a fast turn, and on the Advanced track I flew through the air at one point. You can go as slowly as you want, though. 

It really is thrilling racing through the forest.

Luging in the forest, New Zealand

There are also tunnels on each of the tracks, where, for a second, you can’t see a thing and your cart echoes loudly.

Luge tunnels, New Zealand

My brother hopped out to pose at one of the “Slow Down” signs.

Slow down!

And at the end you wind around to the chairlift.

winding luge track

We also took video on three of the rides, and they really show how fast you can go. This was of the Intermediate track.

And this is of the Advanced track. At the beginning, the camera case bounced up in front of the lens, so the first 30 seconds of the ride don’t come out well. At about 2:00 when there isn’t any rattling, I’m flying through the air for a split second. 






Anders Bruihler is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program


All photos and video courtesy and copyright Anders Bruihler