Australia & NZ

Fighting for Rotorua: Geoff Fischer’s Battle

The Rotorua area is one of New Zealand’s most gorgeous. The area is overflowing with incredible sulfur springs, amazing geysers, spectacular mud pools, and a plethora of geothermal attractions. Nicknamed the “Great South Seas Spa,” Rotorua has become one of the most popular tourist spots in the area, with a history of tourism and spa attractions dating back to the mid 1800’s – even in light of, or in spite of, the persistent and permanent sulfur smell in the area from the nearby springs.

16-Rotorua-12, non stop bubbling

It makes sense, then, that airline officials would want to reopen the Rotorua Airport. As a matter of fact, they started welcoming trans-Tasman flights through Air New Zealand on December 12th. There’s just one person slowing down their plans and his name is Geoff Fischer.

Geoff Fischer Takes a Stand

16-Rotorua-16, other pools are not as spectacular

The Civil Aviation Authority has strict regulations regarding the flight paths airlines can use when approaching and leaving airports. Aside from having specifically set runways, the airlines are also responsible for making sure there are no obstacles that could possibly stand in the way of an airplane’s flight path within a specific area – even if those obstacles aren’t on airport property.

16-Rotorua-07, steamy mud hole

This leaves the Rotorua Airport with a unique problem. Pending the reopening of the airport they extended one of their runways. Approximately 1 kilometer away from the southern end of the new runway lies the 2,112 square meter property owned by Geoff Fischer. Mr. Fischer has a number of gorgeous trees on his property, many of which sit right on the border, extending into what the airport believes is it’s “obstacle limitation surface.”

Rotorua airport

Rotorua Airline authorities want to trim Geoff Fischer’s trees. Mr. Fischer refuses to allow them to do so. The courts at one point ordered the airport to cut back the trees by a certain amount but instead of cutting back the mandated 3 meters, the airport cut back more than 7 meters, damaging more than 10 different trees on Mr. Fischer’s property.

21 A giant tree fern near Rotorua

Now the courts are on Mr. Fischer’s side, refusing to force him to trim his trees back any further. In some countries, eminent domain rulings would have already forced Mr. Fischer’s trees to be cut down – and possibly would have allowed the government to claim some of his land in the process. Fortunately, with the support of the courts, Geoff Fischer will have to do no such thing. That is – unless he wants to.

Red Tree Taken from Rotorua NZ

And there’s the rub. Mr. Fischer could allow the Rotorua airport to trim back his trees. The Rotorua Airport, as a matter of fact, wanted to strike some sort of deal with Geoff Fischer before December 12th. They were unable to do so, which means they had to cancel some of their flight reservations in order to reduce passenger weight, per Civil Aviation Authority guidelines.

Saving Rotorua

16-Rotorua-29, olive white eye

Geoff Fischer is taking a stand for a great reason. His land is full of incredible plant life representative of the variety of species scattered throughout the island. As Rotorua becomes popular amongst tourists, airport expansion won’t be the only problem the area faces. Geoff Fischer’s stand against the trimming of his trees ensures that visitors to Rotorua will have more to see each and every time they visit.

16-Rotorua-11, you can feel the heat

And there is a lot to see. The area is full of incredible cultural, historic, entertaining, and relaxing attractions. The day spas are incredibly popular amongst those who are attracted to Rotorua by the hot springs and therapeutic mud pools and there are dozens of incredible fishing excursions of the shores or Rotorua suitable for fishermen of all experience levels. Not into the sea or the spa? There are tons of bird sanctuaries, wildlife refuges, volcanic sites, museums, and hiking trails to choose from as well.

Rotorua : Rainbow Springs - Tuatara

It is believed that within a mere 5 years, tourism to the area will increase by almost 300,000 people per year – and for good reason. But if the airport had been allowed to tear down more of Mr. Fischer’s trees, who knows where they, or other developers with big plans, would have stopped. Geoff Fischer’s trees may not seem important to the airlines but the plantlife on his property is special and is important to the survival of the the entire island.

rotorua - te puia (hot springs) 16

Rotorua is one town you shouldn’t miss if you ever plan a trip to New Zealand. Book a Rotorua hotel room, pack your bags, and prepare for a pleasant adventure. Just don’t bank on flying in with Air New Zealand!

4 Comments for "Fighting for Rotorua: Geoff Fischer’s Battle"

John Moore says on December 21st, 2009 at 7:03 pm:

If the author of this document has done his homework he would have known that only 1 of the 10 trees on Fischers property are native trees to New Zealand!

fred says on December 22nd, 2009 at 6:45 pm:

A very disappointing story on a sad man that makes a whole city pay for his stuborn attitude. I am very happy to have parents that understand the requirements for a city to develop itself internationaly to enable my generation and others to get jobs and ”a broader mind”.

Geoff Fischer says on September 9th, 2010 at 1:02 am:

Thank you for a sympathetic report on my dispute with the Airport Company which was demanding that 2 native trees (kauri and tarata) be cut immediately and a further 20 (kauri, tanekaha, rimu, totara, miro and kahikatea) later. The matter has now been settled, and I am busy planting native trees on other sites.


  1. Greg Lawrence

Leave your Comment

Name *

Mail (will not be published) *

Your comment

* denotes a mandatory field