Zorbing in New Zealand

by Akhil Kalepu

Aug 18, 2014

© 3quarks-Dreamstime

Adventure

Zorbing takes the concept of the hamster ball and blows it up to human proportions. Adrenaline junkies enter a double-sectioned, transparent sphere made out of plastic, either harnessed to keep up to three riders in place or unharnessed to let a single rider walk around freely.

The concept of human spheres has existed since at least 1973, but zorbing didn’t hit the extreme sports scene until the 1990s. Dwayne van der Sluis and Andrew Akers originally planned an orb that would let people walk on water. After building their prototype and founding Zorb Limited in Auckland, New Zealand, they found riders on water had little control over their movement. A flash of inspiration gave them the idea to roll the spheres downhill, and zorbing exploded onto New Zealand’s extreme sports culture.

A typical zorb is three meters in diameter, with about 13 cubic meters of air cushion surrounding the rider. The ride can get bouncy depending on the terrain, though zorbs will not go airborne on bumps. Pops are rare and will only result in the spheres safely deflating and slowing to a stop.

Zorb Limited still operates the world’s first zorbing site in Rotorua, New Zealand, in addition to consulting new facilities around the world. Popular sites in the United States include Amesbury Sports Park in Massachusetts and Roundtop Mountain Resort in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania.

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