Balloons over Waikato is New Zealand’s largest event of its kind, attracting thousands of people locally, nationally and internationally.
It is the third largest event in the Waikato of any type and the premier balloon event in New Zealand.

In March, at Innes Common on the edge of Hamilton’s central city lake and the grounds of the University of Waikato, more than 130,000 spectators thrill to the sight of the annual Balloons over Waikato Festival, with a record crowd of 80,000 attending the Nightglow alone. Tens of thousands more have the opportunity to become involved at other sites throughout the Waikato region.

The exciting programme of events, held over five days, includes the mass ascension of balloons just after sunrise and again in the late afternoon, competitive flying tasks, a main street parade, fun activities that involve spectators and the extremely popular Nightglow with its music, sideshows, orchestrated “glowing” of balloons and fireworks display over the grounds of the University.

The Event is classified as one of five ‘Hallmark’ events by the Hamilton City Council and this was further justified by the results of the recently completed Economic Impact Survey, which shows the profound effect the Event has on the City, not only in dollars terms, but in visitor numbers as well. The status was further confirmed by the Event being voted ‘Best Waikato Event’, by the public of Waikato five out of the last six years.

The running of this event requires a wide range of skills. We are responsible for managing the budget of this high profile Event which is in excess of $800,000. As a Trust, the primary role is fundraising, to source funding, either from corporate sponsorship or the application for relative funding. The successful management and servicing of our sponsors also plays an important part of our role. As all funds are put towards the running of the Event, the professional servicing of current sponsors and funders and the innovative thinking to attract additional support is a large part of what we do.

This event has grown since our involvement and now attracts in excess of 130,000 spectators throughout the five days with many tens of thousands enjoying the balloons as we take them to the regions. We have been publically voted the ‘Best Waikato Event’ for six of the seven years the awards have been held, and this was further proved by an estimated crowd of 80,000 attending the Nightglow alone for the last three years.

Our greatest satisfaction was the winning of the prestigious Westpac Business Excellence Award for the Not For Profit sector in 2008. Balloons over Waikato has also recently won the ‘Best Established Community Event in New Zealand at the NZ Association of  Event Professionals Awards (NZAEP) held in Wellington. The Judges, of which included CEO of Tourism New Zealand, Kevin Bowler said, “Balloons over Waikato is an amazing event,  its looks to have a good growth strategy, with good scale, branding and engagement. The use of Smartrak GPS is extremely clever. The event has a massive crowd engagement of 120,000+.”