The outdoor-climbing Frenchman putting Kiwis in trees

by Fiona Terry / 19 December, 2017
Jean Caillabet at Adrenalin Forest Wellington.

Jean Caillabet at Adrenalin Forest Wellington.

Jean Caillabet

For someone who cut his climbing teeth in the European Alps, the flat land of Christchurch seems an unlikely location to establish an outdoor-climbing business. But it was a pine forest at Spencer Park that proved perfect for French-born Jean Caillabet’s venture involving aerial obstacle courses in the treetops.  

“It seemed ideal,” says Caillabet, who came to New Zealand 13 years ago to improve his English, intending to stay only three months. “They were popular in France; I thought they’d be great for adventurous Kiwis.”

Caillabet needed a forest with trees at least 25 years old, for strength and height. Christchurch City Council liked his proposal and offered to lease him some land. It took two years to get consent and another three months of construction to get the project literally off the ground. “It was quite a job,” recalls Caillabet, who’d been a mountain guide in Europe and also owned a rafting business. “Everything was hand-created and I needed advanced climbers to help me.”

By opening day, in January 2006, Caillabet was totally broke. “It’s like climbing,” he jokes. “When you’re halfway up the mountain, you cannot stop. You see it through to the end.”

His faith was rewarded. Climbers of all ages and abilities love the courses, which build gradually in height and level of difficulty. Bridges, nets, barrels, swings and flying foxes test the mettle of school groups, families, dating couples, sports teams, and hen and stag gatherings, while a locking karabiner system ensures a continuous connection to safety lines.

Caillabet’s branched out further since then, opening Adrenalin Forest courses in Tauranga and Wellington, where the highest section is a lofty 31m off the ground. Plans are now afoot for another venue, yet to be confirmed. “I can’t call one my favourite,” laughs Caillabet, who’s a father of three.

“It’s like having children: they’re all different, but you love them all the same.” 

Find out more at www.adrenalin-forest.co.nz

This was published in the November 2017 issue of North & South.

 

Latest

Brexit: What does it mean for NZ trade?
101342 2019-01-17 11:06:05Z Economy

Brexit: What does it mean for NZ trade?

by RNZ

Brexit: Theresa May survives no-confidence vote but what does that mean for NZ trade?

Read more
How the unleashed power of technology has radically changed U.S ideals
101292 2019-01-17 00:00:00Z World

How the unleashed power of technology has radicall…

by Anthony Byrt

These Truths is a noble attempt to counter the collective attention-deficit syndrome Zuckerberg and his pals have created in all of us.

Read more
Tiny Ruins gives us reasons to be cheerful on new album Olympic Girls
Catherine Lacey's Certain American States is America as black comedy
101259 2019-01-17 00:00:00Z Books

Catherine Lacey's Certain American States is Ameri…

by Charlotte Grimshaw

It's a matter of taste, the degree to which readers can tolerate the harshness of these stories.

Read more
Dopesick: A humanising look at America's opioid epidemic
101276 2019-01-17 00:00:00Z Books

Dopesick: A humanising look at America's opioid ep…

by Russell Brown

Drug companies have a lot to answer for in regard to America’s opioid crisis, as Beth Macy's new book Dopesick reveals.

Read more
The psychological problems with trigger warnings
101153 2019-01-17 00:00:00Z Psychology

The psychological problems with trigger warnings

by Marc Wilson

The suggestion that you’re about to be exposed to something unpleasant can actually make it worse.

Read more
Why the SPCA aren't completely wrong about 1080 poison
101325 2019-01-17 00:00:00Z Planet

Why the SPCA aren't completely wrong about 1080 po…

by The Listener

In its advocacy against 1080 poison, the SPCA has fallen out of step with this country’s conservation priorities, but they have a point.

Read more
'If NZ stopped importing fabric and clothing, we’d be fine'
101236 2019-01-16 09:00:15Z Planet

'If NZ stopped importing fabric and clothing, we’d…

by RNZ

Christchurch designer Steven Junil says clothing, once considered precious, has now become disposable.

Read more