What is Zorbing

The zorb tumbled into existence in the mid-1990s in New Zealand, hitting the extrem­e sport scene in 1998. What has now become a worldwide phenomenon is a simple ride inside a plastic ball down a grassy — or even snowy — slope. In areas where there are no natura­l hills, zorb operators may build a metal track down which the zorb rolls. Although zorbing takes place on land, it can be a wet and wild experience when water is added to inside of the ball for the ride.

A zorb is actually two separate balls, both made of flexible plastic. The outer ball is around 9 feet (2.7 m) 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter. The inner ball, which can accommodate one to three passengers, is about 6 feet (1.8 m) 6 inches (15 cm). This leaves roughly 2 feet (60 cm) of air to absorb the shock for the riders as they make their way downhill.

The zorb is made of a 0.8 millimeter thick, transparent but strong plastic. The inner and outer balls are connected by hundreds pieces of rope, which keeps the balls turning together. The average zorb has one or two openings through which the rider enters and exits. The openings are normally around 2 feet (60 cm) wide. They not only provide an entrance and exit, but ensure that the passenger has plenty of oxygen for the breathtaking ride.


How It Started

In addition to an interesting name, zorbing also has an interesting history.

The activity started in the 1980s. Taking a cue from the plastic hamster balls that had been around for years, the Dangerous Sports Club of England created a plastic ball that could do the same for humans. It included two chairs inside. It eventually was scrapped.

However, in New Zealand, friends Dwane van der Sluis and Andrew Akers later invented a plastic ball that humans could stand in, much like a hamster ball. The pair called the invention a zorb.

The idea was to roll down a gentle slope inside the ball, running to keep balance as the ball increased in speed. Zorb balls also became adapted to water. If sealed properly, people can engage in “water walking” inside a zorb ball. It has become particularly popular in England.

A zorb ball features one ball inside of another, with a layer of compressed air between them that absorbs the shocks experienced by running a zorb ball over land.

The zorb now has evolved into an obstacle course game, such as the one offered by Fun Crew USA.

Where We Can Make You Do This

Zorbing is performed at commercial locations, where prospective riders pay a fee for each ride or for a whole day’s activity. ‘Hill-Rolling’ (the generic name for this activity) is practiced in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the middle of Sweden, Estonia, the Gold Coast in Australia (currently not available), Canada, the Czech Republic, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Switzerland, Japan, Kochi in India, Phuket in Thailand and Slovenia.

In the United States, there are facilities in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (Outdoor Gravity Park near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park), Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, Amesbury, Massachusetts, and Roundtop Mountain Resort, Lewisberry, Pennsylvania (near Hershey)