There are many things that may spring to mind when thinking of New Zealand. Maybe you’ve seen some of our picturesque landscapes while watching the Lord of the Rings or caught a glimpse of our much-loved sports team, the All Blacks in action on the rugby field. However, what you may not know about our country is that we’re natural thrill seekers and like to do things outside of the box with our ‘kiwi ingenuity’ and can-do attitude. These are just some of the reasons of how a small country at the bottom of the world has managed to invent a range of activities for visitors to experience that are now famous around the world.
But don’t just take our word for it, check out this list we’ve compiled below of epic adventure experiences that have been invented right here in New Zealand! Spoiler alert – most of these experiences were invented right here in Rotorua!
An obvious must do on your visit to New Zealand is ZORB Rotorua. Invented in 1994 by Andrew Akers and his friend Dwane van der Sluis, who originally wanted to walk on water and created inflatable shoes. After some testing and trialling they moved onto a single skin sphere to play in the waves but were worried they’d be floated off to Timbuktu! They moved onto rolling down hills and downhill ball rolling was invented. Fast forward 20 odd years and ZORB Rotorua is now the largest commercial ball rolling site in the world and still owned and operated by Andrew and his brother David, who runs the factory where all of our ZORB balls are lovingly manufactured.
Quintessentially Kiwi and an absolute must-do for any visitor to New Zealand is bungy jumping. AJ Hackett created bungy jumping after being inspired by a tradition in Vanuatu, where he watched people jumping from wooden towers with vines attached to their ankles. Hackett then created a system of plaited elastic bands, and this invention received worldwide attention when he jumped off the Eiffel tower in 1987. Hackett went on to create the world’s first commercial bungy site in Ohakune in 1988. Fast-forward 30 years, and New Zealand has now become the home of the bungy with various AJ Hackett bungy sites around the country including Taupo, Queenstown, and Auckland. You can also experience Rotorua bungy down the road with our friends at Velocity Valley.
Another epic kiwi adventure that was invented here in New Zealand is the Skyline luge. The luge is a unique three wheeled gravity ride for all ages and abilities. The luge was invented in New Zealand in 1985 and has 6 locations across the world including Rotorua and Queenstown. Riders have full control over their speed and direction with a unique steering and braking system. All components of the luge are designed and manufactured in Rotorua and distributed around to the various locations around the world.
Jet boating was invented by Bill Hamilton. Growing up he wanted to explore the shallow rivers surrounding his family farm. In 1954 he developed a new style of boating and the world’s first propeller less. From humble beginnings the jet boat has allowed access to rivers and waterways all over the world. There are a range of jet boat options in Rotorua, including Katoa Jet on Lake Rotorua and Velocity Valley offering the Agrojet on a custom designed course.
Another quirky kiwi invention by our mates at Velocity Valley is the Shweeb. Invented by cyclist Geoff Barnett, the Shweeb is the world’s first human powered monorail racetrack. The custom designed plastic Shweeb pods are suspended on metal rails along a dual 200m track allowing you to race friends and family! With seven gears and a whole lot of pedal power you can reach speeds of up to 45km/h!
So, no matter what style of adventure your cup of tea is, you will be guaranteed to find the thrill you’re seeking right here in Rotorua. Making memories that will last a lifetime.