Hot Air Ballooning across the Canterbury Plains
Ever wanted to just float through the sky, peacefully and at your own pace and admire the 360◦ views of the of the stunning landscape around you?… Earlier this month Sanjay and I did just that when we took our first hot air balloon flight!
The day started off extremely early with a 3am wake up to make a 4am departure to the Ballooning Canterbury meeting point. The drive from my parents house in Christchurch took around one hour, it was still pitch black out and we were the first ones to arrive. Not long after us another couple arrived and we chatted with them while we waited for the rest of the group to arrive before we could be taken to the balloon launch site, the best time to partake in this activity is the early morning when the weather is at its calmest and to make the most of the gorgeous morning sky. (Unfortunately for us the rest of the group arrived quite late which meant we missed out on being in the air while the sun was rising 🙁 )
When everyone was at the meeting point we were taken by bus to the launch site, here Michael (our awesome pilot) gave us a brief history on hot air ballooning and what we could expect during our ride.
A couple of quick facts for you –
- The first manned balloon ride took off in Paris on the 21st of November 1783 and it was in the air for 23 minutes.
- A hot air balloon only has three components to it – An envelope (the balloon), a basket and a burner!
The next part was very hands on everyone was requested to assist with getting the balloon ready for lift off… The envelope was taken out of its bag and unfolded, then two giant fans are turned on to get air and gas flowing through the balloon and inflate it (the sun rose while we were doing this!) When it’s fully inflated, it’s massive!
Once the balloon was good to go Michael went over some safety messages and we hopped on in. The ideal weather conditions for ballooning are dry with good visibility and light winds. We were in luck 🙂
Lift off was pretty smooth Michael got the gas going and before we knew it we were floating upwards towards the sky, we initially climbed to about 5000 feet (1524 meters) to try and catch a breeze in order to stare us in the right direction. Michael is a great pilot, he’s actually been ballooning since 1987 and has won numerous NZ ballooning championships and represented New Zealand at events throughout the world. We were in very safe hands!
The panoramic views of the Canterbury plains and Southern Alps were absolutely stunning. It’s hard to describe the feeling of being the only people around floating peacefully though the air, it really is quite magical!
Our ride ended up being a bit longer than usual due to the lack of wind, we were kind of just floating in mid air until we could catch a breeze to bring us down to a safe landing spot, before landing though, we flew over a farm full of pea pods!
The landing was super gentle and we remained upright the whole time thanks to our expert pilot. After taking a few photos the group got together for a light champagne breakfast before the pack up began.
This involved deflating the balloon and repackaging it into its bag, which takes a bit of skill! Then getting the basket and burner back into its trailer ready for the journey back.
Michael getting in there deflating the balloon!
Our adventure with Ballooning Canterbury was so peaceful, serene and unique, nothing like we’d ever experienced before. If we get the opportunity to we’d definitely do it again!
Happy Travels, Priti X