While in Los Angeles, USA on my round the world trip in 2007, I met a young Irish lady from Donegal, Emma McDaid. We enjoyed a very short evening of drinks and chat in the Venice Beach Cotel Hostel the night before my 14 hour flight to New Zealand. As it happened, Emma had just come the opposite way, from down under to the states. We swapped a few stories and tips, but little did I know how much impact that chat would have on my trip. It seemed to all fall into place. Emma said you can do a bungy jump in Auckland, go Zorbing in Rotorua and go Sky Diving in Lake Taupo, all without stretching the wallet too much. Suddenly I was up for all three and willing New Zealand to throw anything it wanted at me.
Then on a murky Saturday, I ended up in the sulphuric volcanic metropolis that is the city of Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island. Soon I had met a few nice people in the hostel, most notably young English couple Andy and Ali who I hung out with in two different cities in the space of about a week or so. I suggested going Zorbing and they both wanted to as well, so we all got up early one day and left the Crash Palace Backpackers to go Zorbing. We caught a minibus from outside the bus station, where we met Garth Pilkington- Oates, an English guy travelling on his own. The four of us then arrived at the place where you go Zorbing, in a field on the outskirts of the city and nestled in some dream like countryside.
First question – what the fuck is Zorbing?? Well basically you get some kind of wet suit styles clothes to put on and then you get into a large bubble and they close the door and then you roll down a hill. You can choose to have water inside the bubble, which is called a Zorb. It is all over in a flash, but great fun.
The four of us then got our Orange and Black Zorb kits on on a bloody freezing morning in the middle of New Zealand’s winter. One of those morning when your willy freezes to the point you lose a bulge in your shorts. The four of us then joined some others in the minibus which drives you up to the top of the hill. The bus journey up takes about 45 seconds and just to prepare you and prove your in New Zealand, its a bumpy ride and you get banged into everyone around you. You then can choose if you want water or not in your Zorb and then whether it should be hot or cold. Then you choose whether to go straight down or take the zig zag path. I choose cold water and to go straight down. Then the guy pushes the Zorb and you’re off!
15 seconds later you have reached the bottom so it really is £17 for short lived fun. You get a free T-shirt if you manage to stay standing all the way down. I fell after 2 seconds. It was also quite random that just before the Zorb, I signed the guestbook and the lady that was on it before me was a Laura, from Bangor in Northern Ireland. Well I never met her, but its the sort of irony that Alanis Mozzarella would write a top ten single about. My Zorb was over, but I’d recommend it. Rotorua is the home of the Zorb!
Where – Zorb Centre, Rotorua, New Zealand
Price – £17, plus a bit extra if you want your photos on a CD (which I paid for with a discount coupon)
Website – http://www.zorb.co.nz/
Who went – Jonny Blair, Ali Pyle, Andy Gillian, Garth Pilkington-Oates
What is it – rolling down a hill in a bubble
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