A Campervan Holiday In New Zealand Must Include Balloons Over Waikato

by Mark Perkins

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Now well established as an annual event, the Balloons over Waikato Festival is a spectacular display of hot air balloons held in the dairy farming heartland of the North Island, the Waikato and just has to be a must include, when on your campervan holiday in New Zealand.

This was a bit of a spur of the moment thing for me and I decided to head off down to Hamilton as soon as I had finished work. As a member of the NZMCA (New Zealand Motor Caravan Association) I decided to go to the rally they organise each year. The location is not far from Innes Common, where the balloons lift off. The balloonists have an early predawn start preparing for the mornings flights. They always fly early in the morning before the sun heats up the air and influences the varying airflow patterns and currents.

new zealandA total of about 30 balloons were in action. As they took flight the aim of the pilots was to drop a marker flag as close to a pin as possible whilst also trying to grab a cash bonus which is attached to the top of the pin. The rules of the competition are that the pilots and their balloons can have as many attempts as they can within a time limit of approx two hours. This meant that a number of the crews would land, get picked up by their ground crew and transported back to the common so that they could have another go. Two of the balloons managed to use their skills and air currents to fly back to the common and retry without actually touching down again.

campervan holiday in new zealand Balloons Over Waikato Night Glow 2011

On the Saturday night we all headed up to the Waikato University campus where we were treated to live entertainment, a display of the balloons glowing in the dark as the pilots worked the burners in time to the music and culminating in a spectacular fireworks display. Weather permitting the balloons would be off flying again in the morning. This event is proving to be a big hit with those on a campervan holiday in New Zealand.

The whole weekend is a spectacle of colour and enjoyment and will most definitely be on next year’s calendar 3rd – 7th April 2013. When planning a campervan holiday in New Zealand be sure to remember to include the Balloons of Waikato Festival weekend.

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