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Splashing at Rainbow Springs

Rainbow Springs, Rotorua – one of New Zealand’s oldest conservation parks – has opened a thrilling new family-friendly eco-experience designed to entertain and educate visitors about conservation and sustainability.

The Big Splash, which opens to the public for the first time today (20.01.2012), explores New Zealand’s ecological evolution and ends on a high with an adrenalin-boosting 12-metre plummet down a waterslide.

The NZ$10 million dollar project – which also includes a new 384-seat, free-flight bird show auditorium – is the largest single investment made in the park since it opened in 1932.

Journey in time
The Big Splash is a nine-minute journey through time that features narrative and realistic animation bringing to life dinosaurs and extinct giant birds such as moa and the prehistoric Haast eagle, and documenting the impact of human settlement on the natural environment.

The interactive attraction was designed to entertain and inform tourists about New Zealand’s ecological evolution, said Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park general manager Michelle Caldwell.

“It will make people sit up and take a reflective look about how precious our environment is and the wildlife that inhabits it, conservation is a key message.

Waterslide thrill
Big Splash can cater for 500 tourists per hour with a fleet of eight-seater boats that depart every minute.

The boats travel through a native forest canopy, past a Maori pa settlement and a European timber mill town. Life-sized moa, Haast eagle and dinosaur models inhabit the dense one-hectare forest which has been populated with 7000 native trees and plants to represent how Aotearoa New Zealand once was.

An onboard commentary interprets the arrival, and later destruction, of native bird and plant species as the land is settled and exploited by the human settlers arriving from the Pacific Islands and Europe

The gentle boat journey ends with a 12-metre drop on the waterslide.Access to the ride is included as part of the Rainbow Springs admission price, and it operates daily between 9am and 5pm.

Conservation role
Big Splash offers an appropriate addition to Rainbow Springs Wildlife Park, which plays a strong conservation role as a breeding centre for the unique tuatara – a curious lizard-like reptile with origins in the dinosaur age – and New Zealand’s most prolific brown kiwi hatchery.

The ride is expected to be a major draw-card for Rotorua, giving international and local visitors an exciting and unique insight into New Zealand history and culture

Free-flight bird show
Shows in the new free-flight bird auditorium are scheduled to take flight in March.

The show will feature a flock of exotic birds that are currently in training. Some native birds will also be involved in the show at a later date.

Rainbow Springs attractions include tours of the Kiwi Encounter nursery and hatchery (open 10am – 4pm daily), the fascinating tuatara, walking and bird spotting in the extensive native and exotic forest, and feeding wild trout in the Rainbow Pool.

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