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Zorbing: Rolling down a hill in an inflatable ball

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Would you climb into a large inflatable sphere and wait to be launched down a hill? This surprising recreational activity is called zorbing, sphereing, and orbing. Set up on extreme sport tracks in Rotorua, New Zealand, zorbing lets riders surrender to gravity within a specially-made, enclosed, cushioned ball. They can safely ride solo or with one to two others.

In this Brave Wilderness video from 2019, Mark Vins visits Zorb Rotorua to try zorbing for the first time, three times on three different downhill tracks—one straight, one zig-zag, and one called The Drop.

“The secret ingredient,” Zorb Rotorua’s site explains, “is that we add 40 litres of fresh water to every ball (warm water in the winter and cool water in the summer),” sloshing and sliding riders around while the ball rolls and bounces.

inside the zig zagging zorb
Zorbing’s origins began in France during the 1970s when teenager Gilles Ebersolt spent two years creating the Ballule (the Bubble), a sort of art project installation that had Ebersolt rolling near famous sites around the world.

In 1994, Andrew Akers and Dwane van der Sluis reinvented the concept, which eventually became the extreme New Zealand sports ride that it is today.

looking down the hill
Zorbing can also be enjoyed at Outdoor Gravity Park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, near Dollywood.

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