When I found out that hot air ballooning would be an option as an excursion on my New Zealand tour, I knew I had to sign up! Going on a hot air balloon ride has been on my bucket list since for so many years. Why NOT float above the Canterbury plains with panoramic views of the Southern alps and fields of green at sunrise? The 3 am wake-up call was rough, but it was so worth it to see the sun rising above the horizon and the warmth of its light spreading across the beautiful landscape.
When we arrived at the departure point, it was all hands on deck to help get the balloon filled up with air and the basket ready for departure.
Up, up and away! I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous about flying in a basket held up by a balloon. What do you mean you can’t steer the balloon?! To my surprise, the basket was quite stable. I didn’t even notice when we had taken off! My feet felt like they were firmly planted on the ground. It was an awesome sensation to be floating above the ground and gliding across the sky. The pilot put us at ease. He was confident, experienced, and very knowledgeable. Throughout the ride, he provided commentary about the region.
We had a few minutes of silence in between blasts of flame to watch the sun rising. It was such a magical experience. From above, the world was quiet and tranquil.
It was early morning and as the sun was rising, I was in complete awe at the beauty of my surroundings. The 360 degree views reached from the mountains, across the plains, and to the Pacific ocean.
Our landing was quite smooth. We descended slowly and and plopped down on the ground without a fuss. We all pitched in to help get the balloon broken down and packed up, after which we were treated to drinks, fresh fruit, and pastries.
It’s weird to think that there were 16 of us strangers standing cramped in a basket like sardines thousands of feet above the ground, but nobody noticed. The ride was peaceful, yet exhilarating, and very enjoyable. It was cool to share it with others who were just as amazed.
I highly recommend to book your ride with Ballooning Canterbury. They were well organized, professional, and friendly. The pilot takes photos during the ride with his GoPro and posts them on Facebook. He’s also very patient and offers to take photos for you. It was definitely an incredible experience and though it will now finally be crossed off my bucket list, it will never be forgotten!