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