15 Dec 2012

Treetop walkway opens on South Island's West Coast

5:56 pm on 15 December 2012

A 400m-long treetop walkway was opened on the South Island's West Coast Saturday morning.

The $7 million steel structure in the Mahinapua Scenic Reserve winds its way through ancient Kamahi rainforest about 20m above the ground.

It's the first walkway of its kind in New Zealand and has been funded by Westpac Bank and Australian investors.

Its general manager Rusty Donnell says the structure is in an ideal tourist location and he expects 175,000 people will use it each year.

"This is an opportunity for the rainforest to be used and viewed by people in a non-intrusive way. The location was chosen as it is halfway between two other key tourist destinations being the glaciers and the pancake rocks at Punakaiki."

Rusty Donnell says 25 jobs will be created and most of the maintenance work has been contracted out to local businesses.