UP, UP and AWAY... BALLOONS OVER WAIKATO

Code balloons2019
Duration 4 days 3 nights

FRI 22nd to MON 25th MAR

The colourful Hot Air Balloon Extravaganza!  A rare spectacle, with breath-taking sights, as balloonists from around the world pit their skills against the locals in graceful competition.   

We also visit Barry Cox to see his brilliant ‘Tree Church’, built entirely of living trees, spend time in Raglan, Hamilton Gardens (with Waikato River Lunch Cruise).  An optional one-hour Ballooning Ride on the Monday is available (maximum 8 people) for those who want the total ‘Balloons over Waikato’ experience.  

$972 Per Person  Inc. Transport, Accom. Meals and Sightseeing as per the Detailed Itinerary.  Single Room +$344.  A deposit of $200 per person (plus Balloon Ride fare of $370, if you wish to ride in a balloon) to secure booking.  Balance payable four weeks prior to departure, by Fri 28th Feb 2019.

Send an Enquiry to SHIP n SHORE Tours for the ‘Balloons over Waikato’ tour Detailed Itinerary.

 

BALLOONS Day 1
BALLOONS Day 1

Friday

After we are all on board we head over the bridge and down the Southern Motorway, where we make a morning tea stop at the Drury Service Centre.  We then continue south till we reach Cambridge for our lunch stop.  This afternoon we are in for a treat when we visit Barry Cox and his ‘Tree Church’.  After travelling the world and being a keen observer of Churches, Barry decided to create a unique Church of his own using living trees.  He began in 2011 and the Tree Church Gardens, including a Labyrinth Walk, are now available for visits.  Great photos to be had here.  

 

Late afternoon we check into our Central City Hotel, Tainui Novotel Hamilton Hotel, which will be our home for the next three nights.  Perfectly located, the Tainui Hotel is set right on the Rivers edge in its central city location.  The bonus, for some, is that it’s right next door to Sky City Casino!  We have an early dinner so we can join the Ballooning festivities, opposite our hotel, in Garden Place. A night of fun and entertainment finishing with a spectacular ‘Basket Burn’ to music at 8pm.  Make sure, all afternoon, to also keep an eye on the skies as the Special Shapes Balloons will be inflating if weather allows.

Meals : Dinner
BALLOONS Day 2
BALLOONS Day 2

Saturday 

We have an early morning start to witness a major feature of the event, the much anticipated Smartrak Cash Bullseye competition at Innes Common, Hamilton Lake.  Marvel at the skills as balloonists attempt to throw a marker into the bullseye to win $1,000.  They will also be competing in the Smartrak Shortest Distance competition to see who can fly the shortest distance to the pole before landing.  Full Cooked Breakfast on our return to the Hotel.  

 

Late morning we head west for a tour of the West Coast Surfies Paradise, Raglan.  We drive out to Manu Bay (see young, and not so young, adults catch the longest ‘left hand’ wave in the world) and also the old port area, before having time in town for lunch at one of the many cafes.

We are due to arrive back at the hotel mid-afternoon.

At 5.30pm we leave the hotel for the Ballooning Highlight.  Sometime during today it’s a good idea to purchase something to take for a picnic Dinner tonight.  There are food vendors at the university grounds but last year saw queues of up to an hour just to buy a drink!  Tonight we witness the enchanting Night Glow where all balloons are illuminated to create a lightshow of wonder.  A fiesta atmosphere full of entertainers and stalls, with an amazing Fireworks Display completes the evening.

Note:  If you would like to bring a folding chair for tonight that would be great – we have some.

 

Meals : Breakfast
BALLOONS Day 3
BALLOONS Day 3

Sunday 

Another early morning sees us back at the lake.  Yesterday we saw the balloons fly in and today we will see the balloons inflated and fly from Innes Common, across the morning sky.  This will be our last opportunity to see all of the balloons for the final day of the event.  Historically, this day is when you can get right up close to the action, without the crowds, and you may even be able to walk inside a semi-inflated balloon!   We return to our hotel for our hearty breakfast.  

Late morning we drive a short distance to Hamilton Gardens.  We begin with a one-hour Guided Tour where we are taken on a journey telling the story of gardens through themed collections.  Hamilton Gardens explores different civilisations, and recreates historically important garden styles from the farthest reaches of the world – a window into different civilisations, their arts, beliefs and life styles.  This is NOT a Botanical Garden.  Instead, it’s unique and internationally recognised concept has been compared to a museum.  

 

Early afternoon, we do something completely different and board our cruise vessel for our 90-minute boat cruise with lunch provided on board.  Cruise from Hamilton Gardens on the Waikato River Explorer.  Enjoy a relaxing scenic cruise, through the region’s largest city, on the beautiful Waikato River.  The skipper provides an entertaining commentary as we pass stunning Riverside homes.  Dinner tonight in the Hotel.

 

 

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
BALLOONS Day 4
BALLOONS Day 4

Monday  B

This morning we have the opportunity to actually go up in a Balloon!   We could only reserve eight spaces, so it’s ‘first in - best dressed’ (ring SHIP ‘n SHORE to reserve your flight), and of course it’s another early start.  The whole experience is approximately 4 hours with the flight taking up to an hour – help inflate the balloon, then the balloon ride itself, deflate the balloon, before travelling back to base where you will enjoy a traditional bubbly and nibbles.  The price is $370 per person.

 

If you are not going on a balloon flight today you have a more leisurely start to your day, departing the hotel at 10am and picking up ‘our Balloonists’.   

Then it’s time to head north, travelling on ‘the other side of the river’ from Ngaruawahia to Huntly, where we enjoy lunch in this revamped town and maybe take a wander along the newly formed River Walkway.  Heading north we make our way to our last comfort/bacon/ice cream stop at Pokeno, to arrive in Auckland, late afternoon.  

 

Meals : Breakfast

The colourful Hot Air Balloon Extravaganza!  A rare spectacle, with breath-taking sights, as balloonists from around the world pit their skills against the locals in graceful competition.  We will stay three nights at Hamilton’s Tainui Novotel Hotel, set right on the river’s edge and right in town (next door to the Casino!).  Early on both Saturday and Sunday mornings we will witness various ballooning competitions at Hamilton Lake – Balloonists dropping bags on a bulls-eye and the equivalent of a fly past from literally dozens of balloons.  The highlight for many is Saturday night’s enchanting Night Glow, where tethered balloons are illuminated to create a lightshow of wonder and are cleverly ‘fired up’ to a symphony classic.  A fiesta atmosphere with entertainers and stalls, and an amazing Fireworks Display complete the evening.  

We also visit Barry Cox to see his brilliant ‘Tree Church’, built entirely of living trees, spend time in Raglan, Hamilton Gardens (with Waikato River Lunch Cruise).  An optional one-hour Ballooning Ride on the Monday is available (maximum 8 people) for those who want the total ‘Balloons over Waikato’ experience.  

 

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Ship 'n Shore Tours and Cruises specialise in fully escorted 'Day and Away' tours for retirees, featuring a free door-to-door pick up service for Hibiscus Coast and North Shore residents.  A one day outing or away for several?  Regular newsletters offer variety, making the decision to travel on your own or as a couple an easy one.  

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