by Matthew Martin email@example.com
A freak accident at one of Rotorua's most popular adventure tourism operations has left a tourist with facial injuries.
The incident occurred at the popular Zorb tourist attraction when three Irishmen, thought to be in their late 20s, took a trip in one of the operation's "Hydro" Zorbs.
The man's foot went through a weak spot in a seam and he fell into the main part of the plastic ball. He suffered a cut to his face and black eye when he collided with one of his friends and some minor abrasions to his face.
Zorb Ltd chief executive Craig Horrocks told The Daily Post that in the 12 years Zorb Ltd had been operating in Rotorua there had been only eight accidents. The worst injury suffered was a dislocated shoulder to an American man with a history of shoulder injuries and who did not heed safety warnings.
Mr Horrocks said Zorb Ltd had an exemplary safety record. Last year more than 70,000 rides were taken by customers and there were no reported accidents. "We pride ourselves on our safety record and in our research and development programme."
The Zorb involved in this latest incident in Rotorua on Wednesday was only a year old and the damaged part had been sent to Auckland University's School of Plastics Engineering for testing. Mr Horrocks said he was very proud of his staff and the way they handled the incident.
"The guys involved wanted to leave but our manager persuaded them to let him drive them to Rotorua Hospital for a check up. They were there for about 40 minutes for an x-ray and to check for concussion. The man was fine."
He said the incident did not fall into the Department of Labour guidelines for the reporting of serious accidents.
The incident was very unusual and had not occurred before. "The man was in no danger but the ball did deflate, causing a metre long hole in the ball."
He said his team was extremely surprised by the incident. "It is an adventure sport but we are incredibly focused on safety. The Zorbs are inspected daily and stress tests are carried out every few days. It has to be as fun and as safe as we can allow."