Balloons over Waikato

Balloons over Waikato is an annual hot air balloon festival that is held in Hamilton in early autumn.

Balloons Over Waikato

This free event, which is now in its 17th year is running from today Wednesday March 16th until Sunday March 20th.

This morning the festival kicked off with the Hamilton Mass Ascension, with a mass inflation of the balloons at Innes Common at Hamilton Lake. Unfortunately due to the fog the balloons did not take off.

There are four special shaped balloons in the festival this year – the Resene Ele-fantastic Pea-nut Elephant, Baby Dino, Race Car, and Princess Carriage. There are over 30 hot air balloons with pilots from USA, Belgium, Australia and New Zealand.

Baby Dino & The Resene Elefantastic Pea-nut Elephant

Baby Dino & The Resene Elefantastic Pea-nut Elephant

Race Car

Race Car

Princess Carriage

Princess Carriage

Balloons Over Waikato

Balloons Over Waikato

Balloons Over Waikato

Balloons Over Waikato

There are plenty of opportunities to see the balloons over the next four days. On Thursday there is the Wel Energy Trust Breakfast at Dawn at Innes Common at Hamilton Lake at 6:30am. A free breakfast is offered to the first 2,000 visitors as they watch the balloons inflate. The balloons will also be visiting several local schools on Thursday.

On Friday the balloons will take off again at 7:30am from Innes Common. In the evening the balloons will visit Tokoroa (Balloons Visit South Waikato, 6pm – 8pm, Tokoroa War Memorial Sports Ground) and Te Kuiti (Balloons Visit Te Kuiti, 6pm – 8pm, Te Kuiti Domain). On Friday night in Hamilton city there is the City Burn & Markets between 6pm and 8pm at Garden Place.

The Smartrak Cash Bullseye Competition, will be held on Saturday morning at Innes Common, where balloon pilots will attempt to throw a marker into a bullseye to win $1,000. Zulu Nightglow is held on Saturday evening, between 4pm and 9pm at the University of Waikato. This is the biggest event of the festival and includes food, live entertainment, carnival rides and games, and the Balloon Glow Show, which features the balloons lighting up to music. The night ends with a fireworks display.

The final morning will see the balloons take off for one last time from Innes Common at Hamilton Lake.

It is amazing sight to see these balloons, so if you miss the festival this year check out 2017, planning is already under way.

Hamilton Lake

Lake Rotoroa (meaning long lake), more commonly known as Hamilton Lake, at 54 hectares is the largest of three lakes in the Hamilton city area.

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Hamilton Lake Domain

There is a 3.8km pathway the circles that lake. It is an easy 45 minute to an hour stroll around the lake. The flat path is well maintained with a paved path and wooden boardwalks, so is suitable for all levels of fitness.

It is a lovely walk. There is plenty to see with ducks, swans and pukekos frolicking on and around the lake. And if you choose a nice day it can be quite magical as the sun or shadows hit the water.

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Pukeko playing in the flax

On the eastern side of the lake there is The Verandah, a cafe and function rooms. I had an apricot chocolate fudge slice and a cold drink, which was a nice end to the walk.

Nearby the cafe there is a children’s playground and picnic area. There is also short bush walks and a golf green on the west side of the lake.

Swings by the lake

Swings by the lake

Children can climb aboard the train opposite the Cafe

Children can climb aboard the train next to the Cafe

Lake Rotoroa is not safe for swimming. Earlier this year tests confirmed that toxic algae had reappeared and the Council advises parents to keep their children away from the water’s edge.

Sadly the Hamilton Lake Domain has had some bad press lately. In May this year a woman was indecently assaulted in the reserve and last month a 15 year-old girl was raped at knife-point. With this blog I do prefer to focus on the positive rather than the negative, but when exploring what this wonderful country has to offer one does have to remember like all places it has a dark side too. So please stay alert and be safe.

 

Hamilton Lake Domain
Vehicle and pedestrian entrance off Ruakiwi Road