New Zealand's Breath of Hot Air: Bal­loons Over Waikato


新西蘭漢米爾頓的熱氣球節每年在三月底舉辦,為期4-5 天,參與的熱氣球來自世界各地。主辦者稱,雖然在新西蘭舉行,或許因為當地很多人熱衷與熱氣球活動,慢慢地在 18年的過程中演變為一個讓全世界熱氣球愛好者聚集的盛會,如今漢米爾頓熱氣球節的規模已屬南半球最大,每年吸引的全球遊客約13萬。



Hamil­ton, a small town on New Zealand’s North Is­land, hosts the an­nual hot air bal­loon fes­ti­val in late March. The lo­cals’ love of bal­loon­ing saw the in­au­gu­ral Bal­loons Over Waikato Fes­ti­val 18 years ago, with the event go­ing from strength to strength in the years since, at­tract­ing at­ten­tion from the in­ter­na­tional bal­loon­ing com­mu­nity. Host­ing 130,000 vis­i­tors each year, Bal­loons Over Waikato has won the Best Waikato Event six times and is one of the largest com­mu­nity events in New Zealand.

As well as the clas­sic hot air bal­loons, each year, old and young alike are ex­cited to see the orig­i­nal col­lec­tion of char­ac­ter bal­loons un­veiled. This year saw char­ac­ters like Bud E Beaver, Lit­tle Wiz­ard and Piranha bring­ing to life a dream world filled with cre­ativ­ity and colour.

One of the high­lights of the week is watch­ing the bal­loons gather over the open spa­ces of the Univer­sity of Waikato, light­ing up in time to mu­sic hits and per­form­ing a dance of light. The grand fi­nale is the stun­ning fire­work show, mark­ing a splendid end to the fes­ti­val.

At the break of dawn

New Zealand’s au­tumn cli­mate is ex­cel­lent for hot air bal­loon­ing as the sport is dic­tated by air tem­per­a­ture, wind di­rec­tion and speed. Ex­po­sure to strong sun­light com­bined with the large burn­ers used to cre­ate buoy­ancy can cause the air in­side the bal­loons to over­heat. This makes the bal­loons prone to tur­bu­lence, mak­ing early morn­ings and late evenings the ideal time for fly­ing. Bal­loon pi­lots can only con­trol the up and down move­ment of the bal­loon - they have no con­trol over the di­rec­tion. The un­cer­tainty of where the bal­loon will fin­ish adds to the fun and an­tic­i­pa­tion, mak­ing ev­ery ride a new ad­ven­ture.

Orig­i­nat­ing from the United States

The first hot air bal­loon fes­ti­val, the US Na­tional Hot Air Bal­loon Cham­pi­onship, took place in 1963. Al­though the fes­ti­vals were orig­i­nally only held in the States, the ap­peal spread quickly and ex­tended to many coun­tries around the globe. Bal­loon­ists trav­elled (and still do travel) all over Amer­ica, Asia, Europe and Ocea­nia to at­tend the many fes­ti­vals that are held to cel­e­brate this beau­ti­ful ac­tiv­ity.




熱氣球嘉年華始於1963年的美國熱氣球盃 (US Na­tional Hot Air Bal­loon Cham­pi­onship),原本僅屬美國本土賽事卻極快速的拓展成全球比賽。評比結束之後,帶著榮耀與光環,參賽者會在全球各地參與超過百場的大型熱氣球嘉年華,走遍美洲、亞洲、歐洲、大洋洲。

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