Balloons over Waikato

The magical sight of hot air balloons ascending through the Waikato sunrise can be enjoyed each year at the iconic Balloons over Waikato festival.

26th-30th March 2014
Innes Common, Hamilton

New Zealand's premier hot air balloon festival attracts balloonists from around the country and the world to Hamilton in the North Island each April. Over 130,000 spectators marvel at the magnificent spectacle the balloons create as they float across the skies.

The five-day event begins with an early morning mass ascension when more than 30 balloons fly out from Innes Common. The festival also includes ‘The ASB Nightglow at Waikato University, featuring live music, an orchestrated balloon glow show and a dramatic fireworks display.

With excellent flying conditions, a family-friendly atmosphere and welcoming locals, it’s no wonder the event has become the highlight of the year for the region.

The Waikato is a lush farming region that is the centre of New Zealand’s dairy industry.  The picturesque Waikato River, New Zealand's longest river, flows through the region. Hamilton, on the banks of the river, is a thriving, fast-growing city with peaceful parks, gardens and river walks. A university city, it has a vibrant nightlife and the Hood Street precinct buzzes with restaurants, cafes and bars.

Also in the region is Matamata, the home of Hobbiton. Lord of the Rings fans can visit the remnants of the original Hobbiton village movie set, wander among the hobbit holes and find out about how it was created.

South of Hamilton is the popular Waitomo Caves, an underground labyrinth of limestone, stalactites and stalagmites, and underground rivers. Marvel at the bright blue lights of New Zealand glowworms via a boat trip or, for the more adventurous, try ‘blackwater rafting’ – a subterranean adventure involving abseiling, climbing and cave tubing. 

Things to see and do in Waikato:

For more information visit