Zorbing in Rotorua

New Zealand is famous for all sorts of crazy; tourist operators lure with adventure sports around every corner, one requiring more bravery than the next. It was here that the commercial bungy was “invented”, borrowing the idea of throwing oneself off a high structure from tribal culture in Vanuatu. New Zealand also brought forth another, perhaps even more curious and certainly quirkier “sport”: zorbing.

The Zorb operations office on site

The Zorb operations office on site

For those unfamiliar with the term, zorbing involves one or two people climbing into a human-size hamster ball of transparent inflatable plastic. Why? Well, because you can. And yes, it is slightly on the ridiculous side!

Zorb options: no, there is not just one way of rolling down a hill!

As we turned up at the zorb site, my curiosity and silent sarcasm quickly turned into excitement. Unlike bungy, where fear reigns your every move and second prior to your toes leaving the platform edge, zorbing just has you laugh, and perhaps baffled, or even apprehensive in case you’re not the type that enjoys spinning too much. But once at the site, your focus is immediately turned towards the zorb menu. That’s right, there is not just one way of rolling down a hill in a plastic ball!

Zorbonauts, as eager participants are called, can choose between three tracks:

  • the Drop,
  • the Zig-Zag,
  • and Zorbit, the speed track.

As the name suggests, the first option involves a short section of track that is a lot steeper than the rest, giving the participant the feeling of dropping off a cliff. Needless to say that was the option I chose, the bungy enthusiast in me demanded it. Meagaan opted for the zig-zag, wanting to fully experience what being in a washing machine must feel like.

The Zorbit - where riders are in a harness. The dry way to zorb.

The Zorbit – where riders are in a harness. The dry way to zorb.

As well as offering different tracks, the zorb spheres also differed in construction and experience; whilst the speed track required the über-Zorb sphere with a fixed harness construction inside the ball, the other courses were Zydro tracks, slightly smaller spheres with (warm) water added to the interior, with the intended experience being along the line of a water slide. Or washing machine – you be the judge!

Zorbing in Rotorua: here’s how it worked:

You choose your zorb style – wet or dry – and then your track – straight line, zig-zag or the drop, and then you’re off to the changing rooms. Best to zorb in your bathers in case you decide to do the Zydro (which I recommend) and to have a towel with you when you change back into your dry clothes – you will be soaked! When you’re all geared up, a minivan will take you up the hill to the starting point of the various tracks. It’s a very short ride and once at the top, you get to enjoy the green rolling hills whilst your friendly guide fills your zorb with bathtub-warm water. And then it’s time for you to dive right in! That’s right, dive head-first into a wonderfully warm plastic globe. Enjoy the fresh air while it lasts, because it will get quite warm in there on your journey down.

Yours truly on her way down the drop track!

Yours truly on her way down the drop track!

Your globe is then zipped shut by your zorb master, and off you go on your journey down the hill!

The zorb track in Rotorua

The zorb track in Rotorua

Personally, I didn’t even feel the drop – I felt quite disoriented from the get-go. The water had me slide to the left, right, front and backwards, and although the globes were transparent, I couldn’t see where I was going as the plastic wasn’t exactly clear – imagine trying to look out of a steamed up window after a hot shower.

Meagaan found her zig-zag ride quite intense – it’s unpredictable, you dont’know what direction you are thrown in the next second.

I was quite happy for the exit to be unzipped so that some cold air could hit my lungs, and then it’s picture time!

Meagaan at the end of her zorb ride, all soaked after her zig-zag washing machine spin programme

Meagaan at the end of her zorb ride, all soaked after her zig-zag washing machine spin programme

And then followed the least elegant part of the experience – the water birth 🙂 As the Zorb crew tilt your sphere with the exit facing down onto the lawn, the water rushes out and so do you!

Getting out of the zorb sphere in Rotorua

Getting out of the zorb sphere in Rotorua

What can I say – what a ride! I think it was worth doing it once, and I certainly enjoyed the thrills of a completely novel sensation, that being experiencing a water slide crossed with the spin cycle of a washing machine! However, honestly, now that I’ve done it, I probably wouldn’t do it again. But it may be a great alternative for those wanting to partake in adventure sports, who are not into bungy jumping!


Have you tried zorbing? Would you do it again?

Disclosure: Meagaan and I were guests of Zorb Rotorua. Our rides were part of my #Blog4NZ competition win. As always, opinions are entirely my own. A huge thank you to Zorb Rotorua for being part of Blog4NZ and for providing Meagaan and me with zorb rides and pictures!

Christina Hegele

About the author: Christina Hegele runs Sandal Road, a blog on her favourite destinations. It just so happened that 95% turned out to be about New Zealand. Follow Christina and her blog on Twitter, like her blog on Facebook, and subscribe to her Youtube channel. Alternatively, subscribe to her email newsletter at the top right of this blog.

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  11 comments for “Zorbing in Rotorua

  1. 16 July, 2013 at 22:30

    Well, I think I’d actually try bungy jumping before this. Although less life-threatening, this looks way too claustrophobic. But good for you — especially since you went for the “drop”!

    • Christina
      17 July, 2013 at 11:16

      Alright Cathy, now you said it, you gotta do it… so when’s your trip to NZ??? I’d love to see you bungy off Kawarau bridge! 😀

  2. 17 July, 2013 at 11:12

    Hahaha. The waterbirth! I love it! My next post will be on the Zorb and Agroventures! I wimped out of the water one though. It was far too cold on the day. Where are you at the moment? I’ll be in Queenstown for one more week then on to Oz.

    • Christina
      17 July, 2013 at 11:15

      I’m in Germany right now on holiday, but I live in London 🙂 You just escaped Blighty, but let me know when you’re next in town, would love to meet up!

      Enjoy Queenstown, I love it there. And then Oz! Wow!

      • 19 July, 2013 at 09:41

        Ah, cool! Back in Europe. You’re missing some pretty chilly NZ weather! Yeah, I’ll definitely let you know next time I’m in London. It’ll be over a year off though! Say hi to the London bloggers from me! 🙂

        • Christina
          27 July, 2013 at 11:38

          Will do. Enjoy your travels, I’ll be stalking you on your blog!

  3. 17 July, 2013 at 15:33

    Loved Zorbing! So much fun. Though the dry zorb made me nauseous.

    • Christina
      17 July, 2013 at 20:42

      Wow, both zorbs?! I found the whole appeal in the water part of the ride to be honest. Glad you loved it!!

  4. 28 July, 2013 at 14:02

    Alexandra, my oldest daughter, tried zorbing when we lived in NZ. My excuse for not trying was I had to mind my youngest (then a baby). The choices back then (about 10 ears ago) was wet or dry, don’t think there was a long, drop-version. Alex did the dry one. It does look fun, and one “extreme sport” that wouldn’t be too scary.

    • Christina
      29 July, 2013 at 20:10

      Exactly – finally an quirky sport that is thrilling but not too intimidating. It was genuinely fun to jump in there, and one needn’t worry about heights!

  5. 30 July, 2013 at 06:53

    Yeah! I think that would be fun. Like being inside a washing macine or something… But as for me, I would like to try the zig zag. neatec 😀

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