International travel

That’s How We Roll

Head over heels.

In love? Well, no.

Actually, it’s head-over-heels-over-head-over-heels, rolling down a grassy hill in a large inflatable plastic ball.


Images by RJM
That’s how we roll.

According to their brochure, “ZORB Rotorua is the only ZORB site in New Zealand and is the place where it all started way back in 1995! We have rolled over 600,000 people down our specially designed hills around the world!”

Lonely Planet describes the ZORB as an “extreme sport,” so I was surprised when my friend Francine signed up to do it. You see, she’s retired and therefore should behave sensibly and act her age. (Or so the “stereotype” would suggest. Ha ha!)

However, she had seen the ZORB on a travel video and thought “It looks like fun, rolling down the hill in a big ball.”



The price was right, and the staff was friendly and helpful (and young and cute!). So after being weighed, and signing the necessary paperwork (waiver, contact info, etc.)

Images by RJM
Ready to roll

Francine shed her shoes, camera and personal belongings (leaving them with her travel roommate), hopped into the waiting pickup and headed to the launch pad at the top of the hill.

There the staff explained what they were going to do and reiterated their [written] policy that “if you change your mind about the ride, you will be returned to the reception area and given a full refund.”

Images by RJM
Ready, set, roll!

Still eager for the experience, Francine climbed into the hollow ball, was strapped in with a lap belt (“tight and secure; I felt safe”) and sent down the hill!

Images by RJM
Head over heels over head over heels …

She later admitted that she had no idea what was actually going to happen, and once she was strapped inside the ZORB she thought: “Oh, my!”

But the ball was rolling and down the hill she went. Her journey lasted about 30 seconds – “the perfect length” – and we could hear her squeals of delight throughout the ride!

To the cheers of her fellow travelers, she emerged from the ZORB and took a bow, feeling energized, elated and, in her words “Wow!”

Images by RJM
Whoo hoo!

Although she admits to feeling a little wobbly and disoriented for a few minutes after the ride, when asked if she would do it again Francine said “Yes! In a heartbeat!”

I guess you could say she was truly head-over-heels for the ZORB!

Certified Zorbonaut!
Certified Zorbonaut!

Note regarding wheelchair accessibility: While the viewing area is accessible, the ZORB ride itself is not.

By Jeri Murphy

Traveler, writer, photographer, former wedding officiant, mother, friend, explorer and new Texian ... that's just a little about me!

4 replies on “That’s How We Roll”

It was way too much fun. I was actually surprised that no one else wanted to experience it. As I said, “I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”


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