Zorb, Sheep and Sulfur – Journey to Rotorua in New Zealand

Lake Rotorua

On my second day in New Zealand, I woke early and made the two hour drive from Waitomo to Rotorua along some of the prettiest roads on which I’ve ever driven. It seemed like every few meters I was stopping to take photos until I realized that the entire country is a massive scenic overlook.

I eventually arrived in the lakeside town of Rotorua. This is one of the oldest tourism centers in New Zealand, all thanks to the spectacular, and slightly smelly, geothermal waters. My first activity was far from relaxing though, it was the exhilarating Zorb experience.

New Zealand Zorb

Imagine a giant, person-sized hamster ball. Then imagine it with warm water. Then imagine putting someone inside of it and rolling the ball down a huge hill. That is zorbing and leave it to the Kiwis to think of something so weird, but so much fun.

I could have done the Zorb a thousand times, and I’m sure my hosts at Ogo would have let me, but I left for a pit stop at the incredibly touristy, slightly tacky, but thoroughly enjoyable Agrodome.

Rotorua Agrodome

The Agrodome is every New Zealand farming stereotype assembled in a single spot, and oddly enough it works. I saw sheep, cows and goats and by the time I left I learned a lot about the farming tradition on the islands and saw cute animals. Win-win.

For some relaxation I visited the century old Polynesian Spa, which taps the hot, smelly waters of the region and has created a series of peaceful, lakeside spa retreats. Even though I’m not someone who will spend hours in such a place, it was the perfect pick-me up after some intense adventure activities.

That evening I enjoyed Maori hospitality at Te Puia, a traditional crafts center that is an active school specializing in Maori arts. The mock village is built next to some spectacular geysers that lend a certain surreal quality to the experience. A Maori show and dinner capped off what was an excellent day in the timeless town of Rotorua.

Te Puia, Rotorua

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

7 Responses

  1. Christina

    There’s so much to do in and around Rotorua! Last time I was there I only had time to go to the Polynesian Spa (which I also highly recommend). I look forward to going zorbing and exploring Maori culture when I’m there next.

    Reply
  2. Leah

    Again, another informative article for me. If we don’t go to visit friends in New Plymouth, we will go to Rotorua after the Waitomo Caves. I really want to try zorbing. It looks like so much fun. Question: Do you think the Maori dinner and show was similar to the ones in Hawaii? Not similar in the actual culture, obviously it’s different, but in feel? I’ve read that it’s manufactured for tourists and really not worth the time and money. Thoughts?

    Reply
  3. Rease

    ZORB! I want to do that immediately.

    Reply
  4. Erik

    Exciting! Hopefully I can be there next March!

    Reply
  5. Amanda

    Zorbing is SO much fun! I hear they’ve opened up a zorbing operation in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and I’m itching to go down there and check it out sometime.

    Glad to hear you enjoyed Rotorua, despite the smell!

    Reply
  6. Matt Long

    Thanks for all the love everyone! Love that everyone wants to Zorb – you should! I can’t wait to try it again.

    Reply
  7. Cam @ Traveling Canucks

    We passed on the Zorb because it was quite pricey and we were on a tight budget, though it seems like it would be a fun ride!

    Reply

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