Taking a Hot Air Balloon in Methven

It was rough when my alarm went in a (glamping) tent on the first frosty morning of 2024, but I knew taking a hot air balloon in Methven in Mid-Canterbury would be worth the early start. I needed to meet the Adventure Balloons NZ minibus on the main street before 7am.

After checking in our group boarded the minibus which was towing a trailer with our balloon and basket, and travelled out to the launch site near the base of Mount Hutt. Here Graeme, our pilot blew up a helium balloon to test the wind direction so the two chase vehicles knew which way to follow us.

We had a safety briefing before the balloon assembly began. It was a bit of a team effort to set up the balloon for flight, and assisting seemed like a good way to warm up on a two degree morning.

Adventure Balloons vehicle and balloon being set up in a frosty paddock with mountains in the background.

The balloon was stretched out on the ground and attached to the basket and burners, inflated with cold air using large fans, and then the air was heated to stand it up on the ground before everyone clambered into the basket.

A deflated, rolled up hot air balloon lies in a paddock at dawn. Three men stand in various places straightening it out.

Colourful hot air balloon and basket lying on it’s side in a green paddock at dawn. The balloon has adventureballoons.co.nz URL on it and 03 302 8172. A man stands on the right of the balloon observing the inflation.

Looking up from hot air balloon basket into colourful inflated hot air balloon. Flames can be seen firing into the balloon.

After lift off we drifted back towards Methven over the Canterbury Plains with views over the Southern Alps and Rakaia River. The sun and the firing heat warmed us up as we moved peacefully across the Canterbury Plains.

It was a full flight with twelve passengers and two staff in our hot air balloon basket. You can also book private experiences.

I didn’t take a heap of photos as I was terrified of dropping my phone so just lived in the moment and enjoyed the ride instead. A camera is attached to the side of the balloon which takes group photos which are then shared on the Adventure Balloon NZ social media channels. It pays to be at the front of the basket if you want to be in the frame!

Full Adventure Balloons NZ Hot air balloon over canterbury

Canterbury Plains view from from Hot Air Balloon on a sunny blue sky morning

Our group got a fabulous clear sunny morning for the picturesque flight. The frosty start coincided with the first overnight snow dumping of the year which meant there was plenty of snow on the mountains. As we got higher we could even see the top of Mount Cook behind the ranges.

View of Canterbury Plains and snow-capped mountain range from Hot Air Balloon

We got to admire the stunning landscape from different heights and perspectives for around an hour. We were the only balloon in the sky and I felt completely safe the entire time. A hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia is on my bucket list but the comparative number of balloons in the sky there on any given morning astounds me.

The silhouette of a hot air balloon flying over the Canterbury Planes with Methven and snow capped mountains in the distance. It's a cloudless blue morning.

Graeme picked a suitable landing spot on a farm (where they were clearly having a busy morning with new calves!). We’d all been briefed on how to sit down in the basket when we landed for safety, and we gently bounced a couple of times before coming to a stop.

The chase team arrived (the entire crew were fabulous) and after another team effort to pack down the hot air balloon we were treated to a glass of sparkling wine to celebrate our flight. This is a tradition dating back to the first hot air balloon flights in France in the 18th century where they carried Champagne to prove they were human and to offer as goodwill to the concerned farmers whose fields they landed in. The local Methven farmers were also handed a bottle of sparkling wine as they hand-fed their calves.

We were transported back to town at the end of our balloon adventure, the whole experience taking just over three hours. If you’re unable to fly due to bad weather, Adventure Balloons NZ will give you the choice of an alternative day or a refund so there’s no risk of financial loss. I can highly recommend booking a flight in a hot air balloon in Methven. Adventure Balloons also offer a hot air balloon experience in Wanaka.

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