Balloon lift-off disappoints

Hundreds of excited onlookers were left disappointed this morning after the annual mass ascension event for Balloons Over Waikato was postponed due to strong winds.

The Hamilton 150th balloon.The cake has 16 pink candles, the biggest of these measures 6.5m high. If the cake balloon was a real cake it would weigh approximately 326,000kgs and 7 million people would be able to have a slice.
The Hamilton 150th balloon.

Hamilton News photographer Brad Roberts told of tears that were shed when the balloons did not lift-off.

“There was a Finland couple with their child and it was their first time, their kid started crying. Kids were crying everywhere.”

The keen photographer describes his eagerness to capture the moment as it was also his first time.

“I woke up early especially for this and I was sad that I didn’t get to see them go up.”

Despite frustrations after winds around 25 knots stopped the flights, balloonists still managed to put smiles on the faces of viewers by inflating the Hamilton 150th Birthday balloon and offering walk-throughs for children.

“It’s not every day you get to walk through a balloon,” said Angela Gray on Facebook. “This was certainly a highlight of the morning, many thanks to the pilot Craig Farrell and crew.”

The organisation will be announcing at 3:45pm if the 5:30pm Hamilton City ascension will still go ahead tonight.

Balloons over Waikato is one of Hamilton’s largest events that organisers say attracts up to 130,000 spectators annually. The Nightglow alone has drawn in a record 80,000 onlookers in the past two years.

Slideshow by Brad Roberts



There is a planned co-ordinated ascension from Innes Common, Claudelands Park, Jansen Park and Tauhara Park at 5.30pm today.

At 5.30am Thursday, Wel Energy Trust are holding a Breakfast at Dawn event at Innes Common, and the first 2000 people get a free breakfast while watching the balloons lift off.

And from 6pm – 8pm: Hamilton Central Business Association City Burn, Garden Place

On Saturday at 7.30am, balloonists will attempt to remove $1000 from the top of a pole at Innes Common as part of The Smarttrak Cash Grab Competition.

The highlight of the event is The ASB Nightglow at Waikato University from 4pm to 9pm.

There will be another mass ascension at Innes Common at 7.30am on Sunday and the Frankton markets will also be there selling goods.