Ready to board the balloon
Another shot of the view from inside the basket
Soaring in the sky watching the sunrise was a true memory maker for me, even with a lack of sleep (wake up call was 4.50am) and a slight fear of heights!
After having been woken up by Early Morning Hot Air Balloons owner / operator Andrew Livingston with a phone call to confirm the conditions are fine for flying, we meet and help set up the balloon.
An experienced pilot having flown for 20 years, Andrew introduces me to the rest of the people who’re flying today (you’re allowed six people in the basket). Two New Yorkers, two locals, me and Andrew.
After a safety briefing, and a few nervous comments, we help fill the balloon with cold air to let it expand then the gas is turned on and the balloon is filled with hot air ready to fly.
We all hop inside the basket which is suprisingly roomy for the six of us, and you instantly feel light as a feather as it takes off.
Taking off is a dream, we reach good heights and had amazing views of the Gimblett Gravels and surrounding orchards. We can even spot Mt Ruapehu in the distance and the snow dusting it’s tips.
The gas roars to get us higher which keeps us super warm – I quickly forget about that nagging scared-of-heights feeling!
We head towards Napier passing orchards, vineyards and over the Ngaruroro River where we land in a paddock about an hour after take-off with sheep greeting us on arrival.
After packing up the balloon, we head to a sheltered spot in the Pakowhai Country Park where we get brekkie and celebrate our successful landing over a glass of bubbles (yes please!)
Andrew gives us all an Early Morning Balloon lapel pin as a memento for our experience, a lovely surprise and a great reminder of our experience.
You can fly all year round, weather permitting of course. Allow for about four hours all up once you set up the balloon and have breakfast. Rides don’t come too cheap at $345 per person but it’s well worth it. For more information contact us at the Hastings i-SITE on phone 0800 HASTINGS or email firstname.lastname@example.org