Zorbing, for those of you not familiar with this oddly Kiwi pastime, involves putting oneself into a giant inflatable ball, and rolling down a hill in said ball. A bit like those folk who insist on going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, only a tiny bit less dangerous.
My first impression of the Zorb that we were going to be riding in was that it was a pretty darn big thing. Sitting at the top of a hill, bobbing in a lake of water, this double shelled beast towered over me like a benevolent overlord. It did not look like a very likely mode of transport at all.
Still, the person running our Zorb experience seemed convinced that rolling down a hill in a bouncy ball was the thing to be doing, so my two companions and I hopped on in. A note on this. You can Zorb alone. But like many things in life, Zorbing is more fun when down with a friend. Or, as in this case, two friends. Three, I believe, is the limit at which Zorbing stops being safe and stands becoming a mangled group of limbs.
There are a variety of options for ones Zorb experience, and the one we were doing was known as the Zydro Zorb. This is a wildly cunning play on the terms Hydro and Zorb, and, you’ve guessed it, involves adding water to the mix. So yes, you clamber into the Zorb through the little Zorb tunnel, and sit in a fairly large puddle of (thankfully heated) water. It’s a bit like I imagine swimming pools in outer space might be.
Following a brief period of splashing around in said water, and moments of trepidation from what might lie ahead, we were given a gentle push, and off we went down the hill.
It’s kind of hard to describe the sensation of zorbing. It’s a mix of lying under a waterfall, sliding, and tumbling, all mashed up into one. Up and down very rapidly lose meaning, and the swimming pool in outer space metaphor once again comes into play. Luckily it is over too quickly for motion sickness to consider poking her head around the door.
After our first ride, we were pretty stoked and ready for more. We were sent down “the Drop”, a recently installed route that, you’ve guessed it, involves a bit of a drop. Normally this was a solo only ride, but we obviously looked like the brave / crazy types of soul who could handle doing it as a threesome.
Our navigator (read: the person who pushed us to start) informed us in no uncertain terms that it was very important that we link arms and not let go, no matter what happened. I asked what would happen if we unlinked. It was made clear to me that this was not an option. Presumably the result would just be a mass of body parts and gore being poured out of the Zorb at the end of the ride instead of people.
Thankfully, we managed to not unlink arms, and despite the quite frankly terrifying nature of the ride, we made it to the end in one piece. Finally, we were given solo rides down a windy solo track, which was not quite as much fun as doing it in a threesome. Four, if you count the mysteriously appearing inflatable Kiwi which we borrowed from the lovely chaps of Bare Kiwi, who were there filming for the day.
All in all, I can highly recommend Zorbing. It is a pretty unique experience, and not like anything I had done before. Sure, there are more wild and crazy things you can do with your life (aren’t there always?) – this isn’t quite on the same league as sky diving or bungee jumping – but it is a lot of fun and totally worth it.
Finally, if all of this isn’t enough to convince you, here is an in-zorb video of our first run. Apologies for my white legs, and no, I have no idea where the Kiwi appears from either.