The 5 Coolest Things That New Zealand Gave The World
For a sparsely-populated country the size of California, New Zealand sure has done a lot for the rest of us. Today, we wanted to take a moment to look at New Zealand’s top contributions to the world at large — including one near and dear to our hearts here at Outdoor Gravity Park. Read on to find out what we’re thanking New Zealand for! (Hint: it might have something to do with our favorite Pigeon Forge attraction…)
In the mid 1980’s, an entrepreneurial New Zealander named A.J. Hackett learned about the traditional Vanuatuan practice of tying stiff vines around their legs before leaping from high wooden structures, and presumably thought, I could do that.
He worked with a man named Henry van Asch to develop dynamic bungee cords, and in 1987 made an illegal test jump from the Eiffel Tower. It worked! One year later, he opened the first commercial bungee jumping attraction in Queenstown, New Zealand. A new extreme sport had been born.
New Zealand is also the birthplace of a somewhat less extreme sport: jogging. Arthur Lydiard, a New Zealand athlete and coach, was the first person to develop a daily sustained-pace running routine. He is widely credited with popularizing jogging as a means to build stamina and improve overall fitness, and has been lauded as the most influential distance runner of the entire 20th century. He won two national marathons in the 1950s before going on to coach New Zealand’s record-breaking Olympic running team!
The Backdrop to “The Lord of the Rings”
An epic story needs an epic setting, and few settings are more epic than New Zealand! Many people were introduced to the country’s natural scenic splendor in Peter Jackson’s iconic film adaptations of J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. All three movies were filmed entirely on-location in New Zealand! Next time you’re cheering on Frodo and Sam, check out the backdrop and be amazed at the natural beauty that made filming such an iconic story possible.
New Zealand’s Ernest Rutherford is a well-known name in the scientific community. Regarded as the greatest experimentalist since Michael Faraday, the “Father of Nuclear Physics” was the first to begin testing whether atoms could be split. Up until that point, it was assumed that atoms were the smallest particles in the universe. Rutherford’s work proved otherwise and earned him the 1908 Nobel Peace Prize in Chemistry along with lasting scientific fame!
Finally, we come to New Zealand’s greatest contribution to humanity yet: the human hamster ball. Look, it was only a matter of time before someone invented it. The Kiwi brothers David and Andrew Akers just happened to invent it first! In 1994, trying to devise a way to ‘walk’ on water, the Akers brothers developed the ‘zorb ball,’ a giant inflatable ball large enough to accommodate a human adult. These hollow spheres are now used for everything from racing down steep hills at 30 miles per hour to splashing around on the surface of water to playing modified versions of soccer! Whether you’re looking for a fun day out for the family, a team-building activity, or simply an adrenaline fix, you can thank New Zealand for giving the world the sport of zorbing!
Luckily, you don’t have to travel to New Zealand to enjoy any of these world-changing inventions, including zorbing! If you’re in Tennessee, come check out Outdoor Gravity Park in Pigeon Forge. We offer extreme downhill zig-zag zorbing, zorb track racing, and a giant zorb funnel! If you want to try out the human hamster ball (without splurging on the plane ticket to New Zealand), we are the adventure destination for you. Walk-ins are welcome, but you can order your tickets today to take advantage of our online discount.