• The Inventors of ZORB

History of ball rolling

Downhill ball rolling in a giant inflatable sphere can be experienced all over the world thanks to two Kiwi blokes, Andrew Akers and Dwane van der Sluis, who invented the craze in 1994. ZORB Rotorua is owned and operated by Andrew and his brother David in Rotorua, New Zealand. All of our balls are manufactured in our Rotorua factory and exported around the world.

“The idea started out as a way of playing on the beach and being able to walk on water. The problem was, you couldn’t control it, and we were worried you’d end up floating off to South America…so we started rolling people down hills instead,” says ZORB inventor and operator, Andrew Akers.

Constructed in Andrew’s garage, the pair called their double skinned inflatable sphere invention, the “ZORB”, and began trading in December 1995. A temporary site was set up in Auckland until the first permanent site was established in 1997 in Rotorua, where Andrew’s brother, David Akers, joined the business to help run operations.

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”

With two other investors, they created ZORB Limited, and set to work commercialising ball rolling, and later setting up their own franchise network around the globe.

In 1999, Dwane exited from the company to return to his career as a software engineer, while Andrew continued to run the company as CEO. Unhappy with the direction of the company, once a number of professional investors got involved, Andrew and David exited ZORB in April 2006.

David and his family moved to the United Kingdom and Andrew lived in Vancouver, Canada for a few years before they returned to Tauranga, New Zealand. During this time they also invented the Fishpipe ride (a static version of rolling downhill in a ball) and also worked on a number of board games.

Fast-forward to 2010, the Akers brothers pooled their cash, mortgaged their parents house & friends loaned money in order to set up their OGO operation in Rotorua on the 17 acre original ball rolling site owned by local iwi – Ngati Whakaue. To the layman, the OGO was as  much the same as the ZORB, but the company could  focus more on continual product development and a holistic approach to the experience, explained Andrew. This was their second chance to “do it the way we thought it should be done without being hamstrung by lawyers, accountants or professional money-men.”

OGO Rotorua started out with dual straight tracks which were twice the length of the competing ZORB site. Entering the market with longer tracks, offering better value for money by the original inventors proved to be a compelling story for international travelers seeking to do this bucket list activity. Strong support for the Inventors from the New Zealand Tourism Industry, Rotorua based accommodation sector and great customer recommendations on Trip Advisor meant that OGO Rotorua’s business grew steadily over the 8 year period. Loans were paid back, money was reinvested into the site, with new tracks, new dry ride, onsite factory for ball making and the implementation of an automated return system to increase throughput.

On the 17th of May 2019 after a few years of trying to buy back the ZORB New Zealand companies a deal was struck and it was official, Andrew and David Akers, purchased back ZORB.

“In a strange way, the ZORB brand has always remained with me and despite being in competition since we left the business and launched OGO, I’ve always been attached to what we created all those years ago.” Andrew Akers

The purchase of ZORB brings the brand home to the original owners, developers and inventors and brings the story full circle.

We invite you to come to the World’s First Downhill Ball rolling park ZORB, where it all started right here in Rotorua, New Zealand.

Handmade in our Rotorua Factory

Did you know all our ZORBs are hand made in our Rotorua factory?

  • NZ invention: Invented, manufactured and operated by us right here in Rotorua, New Zealand and exported around the world. The original idea came from wanting to walk on water.
  • Andrew and David export ZORBs and the Fishpipe internationally into North America and parts of Europe and Asia.
  • North America is ZORB biggest international export market – we have a sister company in Tennessee called Outdoor Gravity Park who operate with ZORB branded equipment that we supply them with.
  • Time: It takes approx 84 hours to build one ZORB – that’s two people working together for a week (and one of them doing an extra half day on Saturday)
  • Worldwide:  The activity of ball rolling has featured on hundreds of TV programmes, in newspapers and magazine articles since Andrew and Dwane invented it.
  • Outer layer: Enough Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) including offcuts to cover 25 table tennis tables. The plastic is only 1mm thick, but strong enough to support a baby elephant sitting on it.
  • Our Rotorua factory currently employs three full time staff and we are producing around 30 ZORBs and 15 Fishpipes per year
  • We offer complimentary factory tours and education workshops for our visiting school groups (email us on bookings@zorb.com to find out more)

Want Your Own ZORB site?

We get it? You’ve had a blast at ZORB and now you’re interested in knowing how you can set you your own site? We run the world’s most commercially successful site in Rotorua and have over 25 years of operational experience. Having developed this from scratch, to working hands on within our own business, means we know the intricacies, the quirks, the health and safety inside out and back to front! Our experience includes the setting up two commercial sites in Rotorua, New Zealand, Smokey Mountains, Tennessee, USA and have consulted on about another 15 sites over the years.

We do not just sell ‘balls’ we provide a full site set up consultation service and have a site assessment system that we work through with you.

Don’t quite have enough room for a ZORB site?  Then we also export our compact FISHPIPE ride worldwide. The FISHPIPE offers the experience of riding in ZORB without the need to have a steep hill or large areas of land. Most FISHPIPES around the world are located within water parks, or large 5 star hotel resorts.

If you’d like to know more about running your own ZORB site please contact us on info@zorb.com

  • “I KNEW IT WOULD BE FUN BUT NOT THAT FUN! SO MUCH FUN! ZORB IS WILD AND WE LOVED IT!”

    TripAdvisor Review – Lauren

#ZORBROTORUA

Why live life on the edge when you can roll off it Why live life on the edge when you can roll off it?! MEGA is the longest, steepest and fastest track in all the land! Plot twist, you also get arguably the best views in Rotorua from the top 💥👌 #zorbrotorua #rotoruanz #dosomethingnewnz
Psst... did you know that you can bring your water Psst... did you know that you can bring your waterproof camera or device inside the ZORB ball with you? 👀 Just make sure you remove any attachments and you're good to go! 

We're also now open 9:00am - 6:00pm which means more time for ZORB rolling goodness! 👍

#zorbrotorua #bytheinventors #rotoruanz #dosomethingnewnz
In celebration of the Longest Day tomorrow the 22n In celebration of the Longest Day tomorrow the 22nd of December, we bring you the Non-Stop Roll! We’re offering a morning or afternoon unlimited ride pass on our Straight, Sidewinder & Big Air tracks! Check the link in bio to book in! Limited spots available! 💚 #zorbrotorua #rotoruanz
Another Rotorua Locals Day done and dusted! A mass Another Rotorua Locals Day done and dusted! A massive thank you to everyone that came along, together we raised around 1,500 cans for the Rotorua Salvation Army! Y'all rock! 🥫🤘🙌💥

#zorbrotorua #rotoruasalvationarmy #rotoruanz #dosomethingnewnz #nzmustdo
Thank you Rotorua! We are now FULLY BOOKED for our Thank you Rotorua! We are now FULLY BOOKED for our annual Rotorua Locals Day taking place tomorrow in support of the Rotorua Salvation Army! If you would still like to support the fantastic work of the Salvation Army you are more than welcome to visit our site tomorrow to drop off canned goods. Don’t forget we offer a 50% discount year round to Rotorua locals with proof of address! ✌️🥫 #zorbrotorua #rotoruasalvationarmy #rotoruanz
Back again for 2021 and proudly supporting the Rot Back again for 2021 and proudly supporting the Rotorua Salvation Army is our annual Rotorua locals day where individuals can exchange cans of food for ZORB rides! Due to the move to the new Covid-19 Protection Framework we have made a few changes. 

🥫19 December 2021 10:am - 4:00pm. Individuals will need to pre-book a timeslot, you can book online via the link in our bio or call our team to book in a time slot on 0800 646 768! 

🥫Limit two rides per person 

🥫All visitors to ZORB Rotorua over 12 years and 3 months must show proof of their vaccination via their My Vaccine Pass to gain entry to our site

🥫Bring along proof of Rotorua residency 

More details in the link in bio ✌️
We’re changing things up a bit this summer and a We’re changing things up a bit this summer and are asking everyone to secure a booking time. This will help assist with operations over those busy times and also ensure that we’re adhering to the new Covid-19 framework. You can book via our website link in bio or if you’re not sure what to book don’t worry! Feel free to give us a call on 0800 646 768 and our friendly front office team can book you into a timeslot! 🤩🙌👍 

#zorbrotorua #rotoruanz #nzmustdo #dosomethingnewnz
Behind the scene sneak peek 👀 of filming with @ Behind the scene sneak peek 👀 of filming with @sevensharptvnz and Ben Hurley, who was rolling round @rotoruanz in style... ZORB styles of course 😎 

If your Mum was hogging the TV watching boring soaps last night and you missed it - check out the link in bio to watch!💥

#zorbrotorua #rotoruanz #sevensharp #volcanicair #mountainbikerotorua
Kicking off our Longest Day celebrations in style Kicking off our Longest Day celebrations in style with Bubbles, Beats & Breakkie! Watch the sunrise over Lake Rotorua while enjoying a hot breakfast courtesy of our friends at Terrace Catering! While your dining take in the epic views and enjoy beats from the coolest DJ in town! Check out the link in bio for more information and to look buy tickets! 🥂🥞 #zorbrotorua #rotoruanz #dosomethingnewnz #terracecatering

DO NOT MISS OUT ON THIS ICONIC KIWI INVENTION, WHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

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