Head over Heels in New Zealand

Within my first five hours in New Zealand, I realized I’d not accounted for the International Date Line, forgotten my driver’s license, figured out how to drive on the left, backed out of bungy jumping, attempted to break a world’s record in the Shweeb, and hurled myself down a hill in a giant, plastic ball. What a way to begin my epic New Zealand adventure.

Compared to bungy jumping, the ZORB seemed tame. Running on Red Bull, coffee, and stupidity, I pulled into the parking lot of the flagship location of the ZORBing empire in Rotorua. I could hear squeals of joy and laughter all the way in my car. I watched for a moment as massive, clear globes rolled down the hill, thinking it didn’t look too scary in comparison to the cherry picker I’d almost thrown myself off of.

Zorb1

I walked into the nearly-empty office where I was directed to a computer to fill out pertinent personal information. I filled in my name, age, health, and nationality. I chatted up the friendly manager before being directed outside to a viewing deck filled with changing rooms and benches.

A group of 40-something English women were soaked to the bone with plastered smiles that monopolized their faces. There was an Asian-American couple with a six-year-old daughter. She was tiny, cute, and dressed in one-piece bathing suit. She, too, was wet and shivering, but smiling, in the arms of her mother.

Zorb5

I watched globe after globe slowly zig-zaging down the hill. Once reaching the bottom, riders slid out of the hole, which was followed by a splash of water. All the people were wet, cold, and had a case of perma-grin. Everyone I’d seen chose the ZYDRO ride, which means they weren’t strapped to anything in the globe. Instead, water was pumped inside, and that allowed riders to remain upright. There was no way I was going to get wet. Even though it was spring in New Zealand, it was still cold for this Houstonian. No thank you. The ZORBIT ride allowed me to remain dry and still get a taste of the fun.

Zorb2

The truck that would take us up the hill arrived, and we all climbed in. There I was with the five English women and the little girl in the back of a truck. Once at the top, we piled out. Everyone else had been at least once; I was the only virgin.

“Who’s doing the ZORBIT?”

Zorb3

I stepped forward in my dry clothes. Everybody looked at me like I was crazy, that I was really missing out. I didn’t care though. It’d been an exhausting thirty hours, and I just wanted to go to bed. I crawled into my globe and climbed into a small seat. I was strapped in with a harness that went over my shoulders. I felt like Goose in Top Gun. I secretly hoped I wouldn’t meet his same fate.

“Are you ready?”

With a nod of my head and a slight push, I was rolling head over heels down the steep hill. I saw the landscape pass by faster and faster until it was one big blur. To say that I was dizzy would be an understatement. It was like getting the bed spins after a night of drinking…times a MILLION.

Zorb4

Oh, but it was so much fun! I, too, found myself squealing and with a serious case of perma-grin. I felt like the five-year old me who used to somersault her way around the house. All the frustration that began my New Zealand trip was gone.

Before I knew it, the ride was over and I was sliding out ofย  the globe. I staggered around until I regained my balance. I’m sure I looked silly, but in that moment, I didn’t care. I’d experienced the joy of falling head over heels. Literally.

Zorb6

My ride was compliments of ย ZORB, but in no way did it influence my review. Thanks, ZORB!

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18 Comments
  • Erik
    April 25, 2012

    I’m doing this!!!! (just not in my first 5 hours!!!)

    • Leah Travels
      April 25, 2012

      LOL! Erik, I’m crazy like that. It really is fun. I’d do the wet one next time, and if I were buying, I’d get the package of three. You’ll want to do it again.

  • john | Travel Rinse Repeat
    April 25, 2012

    Sounds AWESOME! I’ve only ever seen zorbing on flat surfaces – which seems to take 90% of the fun out of it.

    • Leah Travels
      April 26, 2012

      Flat surfaces? That’s like cereal without milk. Where do they ZORB without an incline? Wow…you just blew my mind!

  • "mrsoaroundworld
    April 26, 2012

    Are you mad??? It does look like fun, but slightly different to what we have coming in Palm Desert! A month to go!

    • Leah Travels
      April 26, 2012

      Yes, Ana,I am mad. That’s something you should know about me. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I like all kinds of trips (except cruises, of course), so I’ll be ready for some pampering with you in Palm Desert.

  • Devon Mills
    April 26, 2012

    It was cold and rainy in Rotorua when I did this in Feb, but still so much fun! I did dry first, then wet โ€” and wet was definitely a much wilder ride!

    The employees told me they do all kinds of crazy things with the ZORB balls after hours, which also sounded like a blast!

    • Leah Travels
      April 26, 2012

      Oh, I’m going to have to make friends with some ZORB guys to get in on some of that fun stuff. Now I’m totally kicking myself for not doing the wet one. Ugh!

  • DebbZ
    April 26, 2012

    It looks so much fun. But I doubt I’d be as brave as you though :p

    • Leah Travels
      April 26, 2012

      Sure you can do it! What’s the worst that could happen? If that six-year-old could do it, so can you. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Murray Lundberg
    April 26, 2012

    We LOVED our Zorb at Rotorua when we were there in 2008! We did the wet ride – the water is actually to prevent friction burns from dry plastic as you tumble. When we were sitting in our campervan contemplating whether to do it or not, the decision was “it’s so crazy and so “New Zealand”, how can we not??”

    • Leah Travels
      April 26, 2012

      Exactly how I felt! I was only in Rotorua for one day and it was just something I HAD to do. It really was fun, I don’t care how old you are.

  • lola dimarco
    April 26, 2012

    i love a thrill but i think somersaulting down an incline might make be barf! you stick to the zorbing and i’ll do the cliff jumping! ๐Ÿ™‚ great story and super fun pictures!!

    lola

    • Leah Travels
      April 26, 2012

      Oh, come now, Lola. I know you could do it. Just lay off the vino before you do.

  • Andi
    April 27, 2012

    Looks like SO much fun!!!!!

    • Leah Travels
      April 28, 2012

      Oh, it was, Andi. I mean, it wasn’t throwing myself off a building in Hong Kong like you did, but pretty thrilling for me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Andrea
    April 28, 2012

    We loved New Zealand too but didn’t try Zorbing – looks like a lot of fun! Hope you enjoy yourself there (seems like you already are) – such a fun country! =)

    • Leah Travels
      April 28, 2012

      I felt that if I didn’t ZORB while in Rotorua I’d regret it. It was a thrill for sure and not nearly as scary as bungy jumping. I wish I was still in New Zealand. I visited in November, but I’m still writing stories. I have a million of experiences worth writing about. Thanks for stopping by.

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