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Zorbs in Rotorua
Highest governing bodyZORB Limited
First played1994, Stien Vermeiren, Rotorua, New Zealand
TypeIndoor or Outdoor and extreme

Zorbing (also known as globe-riding, sphereing, orbing) is the recreation or sport of rolling downhill inside an orb, typically made of transparent plastic.[1] Zorbing is generally performed on a gentle slope but can also be done on a level surface, permitting more rider control. In the absence of hills, some operators have constructed inflatable, wooden, or metal ramps. Due to the buoyant nature of the orbs, Zorbing can also be carried out on water, provided the orb is inflated properly and sealed once the rider is inside. "Water walking" using such orbs has become popular in theme parks across the UK.[2][failed verification]

There are two types of orbs: harnessed and non-harnessed. Non-harnessed orbs carry up to three riders, while the harnessed orbs are constructed for one to two riders. The first zorbing site was established in Rotorua, New Zealand, by ZORB Ltd.[3]


Zorbing at the Chew Stoke Harvest Home September 2010
Zorbing at the World Gymnaestrada 2019 in Dornbirn, Vorarlberg, Austria

A Russian article on the Zorb mentions a similar device having debuted in 1973.[4] In the early 1980s, the Dangerous Sports Club constructed a giant sphere (reportedly 23 metres or 75 feet across) with a gimbal arrangement supporting two deck chairs inside. This device was eventually cut up for scrap.[5] Human spheres have been depicted in mass media since 1990 when the Gladiators event "Atlaspheres" first aired, albeit with steel balls.[6]

In 1994, three investors created the firm ZORB Limited in New Zealand to create suitable spheres for humans and to commercialize sphereing.[7] Their business model was to develop the activity via a franchise system. Zorbing entered the Concise Oxford English Dictionary in 2001 where it was defined as: "a sport in which a participant is secured inside an inner capsule in a large, transparent ball which is then rolled along the ground or down hills."


The orb is double-sectioned, with one ball inside the other with an air layer in between (unlike the water walking ball, which is usually a single thin-walled ball). This acts as a shock absorber for the rider. Orbs are lightweight and made of flexible plastic. Many orbs have straps to hold the rider in place, while others leave the rider free to walk the orb around or be tossed about freely by the rolling motion. A typical orb is about 3 metres (10 ft) in diameter with an inner orb size of about 2 metres (6 ft 7 in), leaving a 50–60 centimetre (20–24 in) air cushion around the riders. The plastic is approximately 0.8 millimetres (0.03 in) thick.[citation needed] The inner and outer orbs are connected by small nylon strings. Orbs have one or two tunnel-like entrances.


'Hill-rolling' and 'globe riding' are generic names for this activity which is practised in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Estonia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Switzerland, Japan, Costa Rica, Kochi in India, Phuket in Thailand, and Slovenia.[citation needed] In the United States, there are facilities in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, Amesbury, Massachusetts, and Roundtop Mountain Resort, Lewisberry and Pennsylvania.[citation needed] with the longest track in the world in Denmark, Western Australia at 570m long.


The Guinness Book of World Records recognises five sphereing records:

  • The longest distance travelled in a single roll is held by Steve Camp, of South Africa, who travelled 570 metres (1,870 ft).[8]
  • The fastest sphereing ride is held by New Zealand's Keith Kolver, who reached a speed of 52 kilometres per hour (32 mph).[9]
  • The longest time spent zorbing is 4 hours, 11 minutes, and 33 seconds; the record is held by Siddhant Kulkarni, who also once held the fastest sphereing ride.
  • The fastest 100 metres (330 ft) in a Zorb is 23.21 seconds; it is held by James Duggan, of Dunmanway, County Cork, Ireland, who broke the record during the Sam Maguire Harvest Festival on the September 8, 2019.[10]

Injuries and deaths[edit]

Although the cushioning design of the orbs prevents many serious injuries, light injuries such as bruises and grazes can often be sustained by colliding with objects or tripping whilst the orb is rolling down an incline. Even though severe injury is rare, there have been cases of children passing out due to lack of air and even some deaths.

In June 2009, a teacher died (and a pupil was severely injured) in the Czech Republic while zorbing.[11]

In January 2013 at a ski resort in Dombay, Russia, a man died from a broken neck, and another was badly injured when the Zorb he was in rolled out of control down a mountain, hitting rocks and eventually coming to a stop a kilometre away on a frozen lake.[12][13][14] The incident was caught on camera and uploaded to the Internet.[15] After the incident made international headlines, Russian authorities called for tougher safety laws.[16]

In December 2021, some of the children injured or killed by the Hillcrest Primary School Tragedy were in Zorbs that were launched into the air by a gust of wind.[17]

In May 2023 a nine year old child was injured when a zorb was lifted into the air at Southport food and drink festival in the UK.[18] Police were investigating footage of a dust devil, filmed in the area on the same day as the accident.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ DNews. "What Is Zorbing? And Is It Really Fun If You're Over 20?". Seeker. Retrieved 2020-04-10.
  2. ^ bersmythuk (25 June 2012). "Noah in Aqua Zorb, Chessington 25June12". Archived from the original on 2021-12-21 – via YouTube.
  3. ^ "Zorbing: The best way to roll down a hill without looking too ridiculous | The Star Online". www.thestar.com.my. Retrieved 2020-04-10.
  4. ^ БАЗЫЛЮК, Марина (March 1, 2005). Новые Известия / Кого не берут в космонавты, тот становится зорбонавтом. (in Russian). Retrieved August 18, 2009.
  5. ^ "What on earth is a zorb?". ExtremeDreams. Retrieved August 18, 2009.
  6. ^ "Operation Condor - Zorb ball scene - YouTube". YouTube. 2007-01-19. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2016-06-20.
  7. ^ READ, ELLEN (14 Aug 2003). "Zorb inventors rolling in it". No. 14 Aug 2003. New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  8. ^ "Greatest Distance Zorbing". Guinness World Records. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  9. ^ "World's fastest 'zorbanaut' kicks off Guinness World Records Day". USA TODAY. Agence France-Presse. 2006-11-09. Archived from the original on Mar 6, 2015. Retrieved November 9, 2006.
  10. ^ "Corkman enters Guinness Book of Records for 'zorbing'". echo live. 2020-12-14. Archived from the original on 27 June 2022. Retrieved 2022-06-27.
  11. ^ "Teacher killed in zorbing accident". News.com.au. June 5, 2009. Archived from the original on Jan 11, 2013.
  12. ^ "'Zorbing' Death Brings Call For Safety Rules; Fatal Ride Captured On Video". NPR. January 9, 2013.
  13. ^ "Fatal Zorb accident at ski resort". 3 News NZ. January 9, 2013.
  14. ^ "Man in Plastic Ball Dies on Russian Ski Slope". The New York Times. January 11, 2013.
  15. ^ "VIDEO: Zorb death at Russian ski resort". Mobile Reporter (RU). January 4, 2013.
  16. ^ "Russia probes Zorb death". 3 News NZ. January 10, 2012.
  17. ^ McLennan, April (4 February 2022). "Jumping castle accident still scars Hillcrest Primary School as students prepare to return". ABC News. ABC News. Retrieved 16 March 2022.
  18. ^ Jahangir, Rumeana (5 June 2023). "Boy hurt as zorb lifted into air by wind at Southport festival". BBC News. Retrieved 6 June 2023.
  19. ^ "Southport zorbing injury: Dust-devil footage investigated". BBC News. 6 June 2023. Retrieved 6 June 2023.
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