Having a Ball
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be stuck inside a giant washing machine, here’s your chance to find out: Zorbing, the newest adrenaline adventure that involves absolutely no skill whatsoever, puts you in the center of a gigantic bubble made of clear plastic and then sends that bubble—with you inside it—rolling down a steep hill. You can do this adventure without adding water (to find out what it’s like inside a giant dryer, I suppose), but why not go the distance and add water for an extra splash of fun?
Rotorua, located in the center of New Zealand’s North Island on the western shores of sulphur-smelling Lake Rotorua, is the premier place to experience Zorb—this is the original Zorb site and has been in operation for over 14 years. Just follow the signs to the Agrodome in Ngongotaha, and you’re there. This sport originated in New Zealand, home of bungee jumping and other “stupid things to do on vacation,” as the company’s website proudly declares.
The Zorb globe looks like a huge cell from high school biology class. You’ll enter the Zorb head-first through its “mouth” after taking off your shoes and jewelry. There’s actually a smaller sphere inside the outer sphere, and the air space in between the two spheres helps to absorb the shocks you’ll feel when you hit bumps at 32kmph (20 mph). After getting strapped in, you may want to invite a friend to join you in the Zorb—it can hold up to three adults. And because you’ll be spinning upside down uncontrollably for a few minutes, it’s best not to Zorb on a full stomach or while intoxicated, for reasons that should be obvious.
Some folks have reported that the plastic on older Zorbs has aged and become cloudy, which significantly reduces the visibility and the fun factor—call ahead to make sure you can get a clear Zorb. And afterwards, stick around the Rotorua area for more fun: the Riverjet Thermal Safari (www.riverjet.co.nz), the White Island Volcano (www.wi.co.nz), Kaituna Cascades Raft & Kayak Expeditions (www.kaitunacascades.co.nz), and Waimangu Volcanic Valley (www.waimangu.co.nz) are all top adventure destinations.
Zorb Globe Riding ( 64-7/357-5100; www.zorb.com).
When to Go: Sept–Apr.
Auckland (225km/140 miles).
$$ The Springs, 16 Devon St. ( 07/348-9922; www.thesprings.co.nz). $$ Duxton Hotel Rotorua, 366 St. Hwy. 33 ( 0800/655-555; www.duxton.com).