One of my favorite times of the year in Hamilton is the Balloons Over Waikato hot air balloon festival.
Held in early autumn, the cooler early morning ascension’s are a signal reminder that summer is coming to an end.
Ballooning lift off is at the mercy of New Zealand’s fickle weather, so checking the forecast and Facebook page are a must to avoid disappointment for your pre-dawn efforts!
So what do I love about photographing balloons? To start with it’s not something you see every day. Many people seem to make it well into adulthood without ever experiencing a balloon mass ascension close up. The balloons are larger that you think and the specialty balloons have so much character, making you feel quite small, yet inspired by these large objects that can rise so majestically into the sky above. Also the bright colours and translucent nature of the balloon material can create some beautiful vibes in the early morning sun.
Lastly is the sense of adventure. I have never been ballooning but can only imagine the spine tingling as your rising transportation pod reveals that stunning view over the beautiful Waikato landscape on a crisp autumnal morning. Then drifting off into the unknown until eventually you land… somewhere!
The festival also has a grand finale ‘night glow’ on the last evening, where the balloons inflate in the dark and the pilots fire their burners in sequence to select music. This is truly an amazing sight and sound, followed by a fairly descent fireworks display.