Going in a hot air balloon is something that has always appealed to me. Ever since I used to watch Dorothy fly away at the end of the Wizard of Oz (Spoilers, sorry), I have thought they were a magical way to travel. When my friend Kirsty suggested that we plan a hot air balloon trip as part of my time in New Zealand, I jumped at the chance. Of all of the adventures and exciting activities that we did when we were in New Zealand, this was by far the most surreal and unbelievable. Even on the day that we were setting our alarms for 5am so that we could travel to Canterbury Balloons in time for our 7am sunrise flight, I still couldn’t fully envisage it actually happening.
As it was a sunrise trip, we arrived bright and early to meet Michael, our pilot, and Lucas, the one other passenger who was on our trip. Bless him, I don’t think he had really bargained on being surrounded by excited Scottish girls talking very fast first thing in the morning!
It was a pretty hands on experience and Michael gave us all jobs to do in setting up the balloon. This was a little unnerving because I didn’t really trust myself (or my friends, to be honest) to follow the instructions carefully enough. I’m pretty sure that Michael was going along checking what we did (or at least, that’s what I tell myself!) and we all made it back in one piece at any rate. One thing I found surprising was the sheer size of the balloon: when we started filling it with air, it billowed out and filled the space in no time.
Actually taking off was something that we had all been apprehensive about but genuinely none of us even noticed it happening! Michael was explaining to someone how to unclip the carabiner that was anchoring us to the ground and by the time that was done we were already pretty high, so that was a great distraction because by the time we knew we were airborne, we already felt so secure that we thought we were still on the ground.
The views were absolutely incredible over the Canterbury plains and the Southern Alps. The photos below seriously could never do it justice – this is something that you absolutely need to experience firsthand. We even got above the clouds in time for the sunrise – it was just such a memorable and amazing experience. I can honestly say I have never experienced anything like this before.
As someone with a ‘slight’ fear of heights, I was quite nervous for the first 15-20 minutes of the flight. Michael was great though and he was so clearly in control of the situation that I did calm down and feel at ease as time went on. He also told us that he competed in the world Championships for Ballooning and Gliding so that also made me feel quite a lot better!
Overall we spent about an hour in the air. When we landed we were treated to a champagne breakfast to toast to our first ever hot air balloon flight before we helped pack up the balloon again (which I think was even harder than preparing it in the first place!).
I would highly recommend for anyone to experience a flight in a hot air balloon, so if you ever get the chance to do it you absolutely should. It was so unlike anything else I have ever experienced, and the views were unbelievable. Canterbury Balloons was a great company for my first experience of ballooning – I felt at ease (or, as at ease as I ever could at 3500 feet!) and Michael was really nice and welcoming. He also took lots of pictures of us, before, during and after the flight which was great because we have some good group pictures of us all.
We paid under $300 each on bookme.com and it was well worth the money for a truly unforgettable morning. Thank you Canterbury Ballooning!