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Get Blobbed - NZs Largest Human Catapult

Get Blobbed - NZs Largest Human Catapult

How do you spell fun? At Waimarino Adventure Park it’s B-L-O-B, a new approach to high flying fun over water.You start out just above the water level and become a human projectile – shot into the air. The innovators at Waimarino Adventure Park, who already boast New Zealand’s only kayak water slide, have pioneered New Zealand’s Biggest ‘Blob.’ 

A blob, explains Waimarino owner Blair Anderson, is a big inflatable pillow or sausage, tethered in the river.  A person is launched like a ‘human catapult’ from one end, using principles of weight displacement. One person jumps from a 4.5 metre tower onto one end of the colourful ‘cushion.’  It rushes the air to the other end where a second person is seated, and ‘pops them up into the air,’ says Blair, hopefully as high as 12 metres.

So a 100 kg person jumping off the tower would launch a skinny blobber incredibly high?  Yes in theory, he says, but they don’t allow it – operating procedures keep the weights within safe boundaries.  Staff have been trained to try and achieve some balance between the weights of the two participants, and for weight reasons, 8 years old is the preferred minimum age.  There are a number of other safety measures that include the wearing of helmets and buoyancy vests.     

Blair Anderson got the idea from American staff who come over to work at the Adventure Park every North American winter.  Staff members enthused about blobs in operation back home and managed to find some pictures and You Tube footage to show Blair. ‘We’ve got to have it,’ he told them, fired up with the idea of getting one for the park.

Blair Anderson considered importing a blob but the costs were prohibitive, in view of both the ongoing recession and the state of the New Zealand dollar at the time.  He resolved to make his own. He found a Nelson company that was ‘pretty clever’ and entrepreneurial who assured him they could make whatever he designed.  Blair worked on all the dimensions, materials and other details with his staff to come up with ‘the best toy ever.’

One staff member, he explains, had come from a ‘scales and weights background,’ and they drew pictures and they brain-stormed, to eventually come up with the ideal features. ‘I’d have to say we’ve done extremely well,’ says Blair, pointing to only one small design error – relating to how easy it was to inflate and deflate and blob.

Given their success, Blair admits they were tempted to go into Blob production. They decided to test their prototype throughout the summer season first, and make sure it was performing brilliantly. There may be similar ventures in the country, but Blair is certain their 12 metre long, 4.5 metre wide blob is the biggest.

The Blob doesn’t cost park users any extra – it’s one of the activities you get with a Supreme Pass. The passes cost $39 adults, $30 children, or $145 for a family pass. Aside from The Blob, there are Pedallos (pedal boats) rock climbing and unlimited kayak hire. You can also use a kayak (or a mat) on the kayak slide. Beach volleyball is a popular activity and there’s also a low ropes course. Soak in a warm pool and prepare a BBQ nearby.

Blair Anderson says that after some weeks of blobbing, ‘the smiles tell it all.’
More information: Tel 576 4233 or www.waimarino.com

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