Ball rolling is a simple idea. A person or persons get inside a huge ball, like being inside a massive spherical bubble wrap, the ball is filled with some water, and then rolled down a hill. Sounds fun to me.
OGO is ball rolling from the inventors. After setting up ‘Zorb’ around 10 years ago, Andrew Akers has now set up a new business called OGO. The differences between them are that OGO has longer hills and rounder balls, which means faster ball rolling. Also, the balls are made by Andrew’s brother, who makes them on the same site in Rotorua.
OGO have a sidewinder track that zig zags down their hill, as well as two straight tracks side by side for races. They have a safety certificate that, at the time of printing, Zorb do not have. OGO also provide 2 hot tubs at the bottom of their hill after noticing some families were apprehensive to go into a hot tub with a rowdy group of backpackers. The final difference to note is when I Tweeted asking which company was better to ball roll with, OGO replied immediately and Zorb never even bothered.
I visited OGO (Outdoor Gravity Orb) on a trip to Rotorua, you can read more about that trip here.
OGO is located just on the edge of Rotorua, and if you approach the town via Ngongotaha Road you can’t miss OGO. They even have a disused ball next to their road sign!
I rocked up around 9.30am, parked in the car park and waddled through the early morning rain towards the office. The office looked like 5 changing rooms, a toilet and 2 hot tubs before I actually reached the other side and saw the warm and cosy spot filled with OGO staff milling around.
I was greeted with smiles and cheery explanations of how OGO works, after a brief “signing in” on the tablets provided. You can see the balls rolling down the hill from everywhere, the road, the car park and the office. I shot a video from the car park, showing you the buildings and a customer rolling down the hill.
After the introduction I got changed in the lockable changing rooms behind the office and left my stuff in the rack provided. I waited for the OGO-mobile (4×4) to come down the hill, and jumped inside for warmth as the staff loaded up the OGO’s on the attached trailer. My driver was chatty, funny and helpful with me as I ascended and told me to wait in the car while he filled my OGO with water.
I made the dash from vehicle to OGO as quickly as I could. The proper technique is to ‘dive’ in, and it’s quite good fun, especially when you land in warm water. It was like a bath, I could have quite happily stayed in there all day!
I was told to stand up inside the ball, and after a 3-2-1 countdown I would have to run forwards, effectively starting the ball rolling over the edge of the hill. If anyone’s worried, there is a solid metal gate stopping you from going too early that only gets lifted after the countdown.
I only managed two strong strides before I was on my ass being whizzed down the hill. There is very little control as gravity does its bit and you slosh around laughing. You will see in the videos below that it is hard to explain why people laugh so much, I’m used to fun making me smile and jokes making me laugh. This thing had me laughing the whole way down, when I wasn’t blinded by water of course! I had a great time and aside from jumping in the hot tub while you wait for the Land Rover, the first thing you want to do is go again.
I had the “sidewinder” track next and you can have 1 or 2 adults in all of the rides. This track is longer because it goes from side to side, and I would soon find out it is VERY different to the straight track. Again, the proof is in the pudding.
The sidewinder track was by far my favourite because not only did it last longer but you spin every which way and you never know what’s coming, totally losing your sense of direction. The water is everywhere, and so are your limbs, in what must be one of the best activities I have ever tried.
As in all my reviews, we try to stay balanced and mention every little detail. It is very difficult to find an issue with OGO-ing, I suppose the only downside is that it is over quite quickly. The straight track is around 45 seconds and the sidewinder is double that. Of course the current answer to that is, go again! The future answer to that may be different however, as I was informed that OGO are looking to extend their track further up the hill.
OGO also offer a harnessed ride if you don’t want the water. As I haven’t tried this, I cannot comment on it. The water can be cool water in the summer, but as it was a cool day when I went, I opted for warm water. They also take some great photos and these are all available on a CD that is burned for you there and then, at a cost of $30.
Rides are $45pp for the straight race and $95 for 2 for the sidewinder. This includes the lift to the top, the ball rolling itself and the relaxing dip in the hot tub each time you come down. These prices can be reduced by booking online. So now, the big question… is it worth it? I say yes, it damn well is! OGO is unmissable. To book, or for more details, visit their website.
525 Ngongotaha Road