The History of Skyline Rotorua
Passengers from around the world have been climbing aboard the Gondolas since 1985 and the ride hasn’t stopped since.
Skyline’s story began in 1981, when Skyline Enterprises founder Hylton Hensman purchased farmland on the city side of Mt Ngongotaha which, unusually for Rotorua, wasn’t in Māori title. Skyline Enterprises had been operating a very successful South Island gondola operation since 1967 and decided that it was time for expansion.
Several tourist attractions, including Rainbow Springs to the left of Skyline, were already being developed and the Skyline shareholders decided the time was right to invest in the area – and Skyline Skyrides was established (re-branded Skyline Rotorua in 2010).
Construction began in Rotorua in 1984, with a Mueller Gondola system being installed from Switzerland and a restaurant capable of accommodating up to 250 people was built at the top of the Gondola.
On 10 March 1985 Skyline Skyrides Rotorua was officially opened and in the past 30 years of operation the attraction has had more than eight million visitors ride the Gondolas. Many Kiwis will have fond childhood memories of riding the Gondolas for the first time – for many it was, and still is, a quintessential part of growing up in New Zealand.
History of Luge
In 1984 construction began on Skyline Rotorua’s thrill element – the world’s first Luge track – which was opened to the public in 1985, with additional tracks completed in 1993 and 2001.
‘Luge’ is a French word which came into general use around 100 years ago to describe a type of toboggan used in Switzerland. The concept of the Skyline Luge, which did not rely on snow or ice, evolved from a Hylton Hensman idea and when Skyline Skyrides was established, the concept became a reality.
A 900 metre long Doppelmayr cableway system with a vertical rise of 178.5 metres, is capable of carrying 2000 people an hour in eight-seater cabins.
History in brief:
1984 - Construction begins
1985 - Gondola complex and first ever Luge site opens for business
1985 – World’s first luge track opens
1997 - Skyline Rotorua wins New Zealand Tourism Award
2000 – Skyswing opens
2005 - New 10 million dollar 8 seater Gondola installed
2012 - Food Market Kitchen, Jelly Belly Store and Volcanic Hills Wine Tasting Room opens
2013 - Celebrates the 15 Millionth Luge rider in Rotorua & Food Market Kitchen renovation
2014 – Skyline Rotorua Gravity Park opens, Nature Trails developed, Zoom Zipline is launched and $2 million renovated Stratosfare Restaurant opens
2015 – Crankworx Rotorua is hosted at Skyline with custom built tracks and courses