About B.O.W

The Balloons over Waikato Trust

The Balloons over Waikato Trust is a non-profit organisation and has been successfully running this event for the previous 12 years.   The Festival is a major iconic event for the general public on the annual calendar in both Hamilton and the Waikato Region. Five times voted Best Waikato Event by the public of Hamilton, this event is must do in the Waikato events calander. 

The Event runs for five days in early April at Innes Common, Hamilton Lake and The University of Waikato

Mission Statement
To promote, advance and encourage hot air ballooning for the entertainment of the general public and the promotion of the Waikato region.
Trust Vision
To grow the level of participation and number of spectators and maintain Balloons Over Waikato’s position as the premier hot air balloon event in New Zealand and a major hallmark event for the region, nationally and internationally, through excellence in entertainment, organization and communication


Balloons over Waikato is New Zealand's premier hot air balloon festival. Held annually, in Hamilton, this five-day icon event it is arguably the most popular event in the city. It attracts balloonists from all over New Zealand and around the world, who come to experience the fun, friendship and warmth this balloon friendly city provides and to demonstrate their skills in a range of competitive activities.

Over 130,000 spectators will enjoy the spectacle the magnificent balloons create, by visiting Innes Common or the University of Waikato to view the Nightglow. Many thousands more enjoy watching their progress across the skies from other vantage points in the city and region.

In 2008 , Balloons over Waikato won the Westpac Business Excellence Award for Not For Profit Organisations and was voted 'Best Waikato Event' by the public of the Waikato through a readership poll in the Waikato Times in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.  The Events popularity was further proved by the record crowd of 80,000 spectators at the Nightglow the last 3 years.

Mass hot air balloon ascensions just after sunrise, amazing new feature balloons with their special shapes, the opportunity to interact with the pilots and their crews and the magical ASB Nightglow at Waikato University that entertains and delights members of the local community and visitors to the region. Admission is free.



Balloon festivals have been part of the Hamilton scene since 1988 and are enthusiastically supported by the local community. In late 1999 the Balloons over Waikato Charitable Trust was established as the governing body to provide new direction and continuity for the Festival. The Trust has now completed the staging of eleven highly successful events.

The 2010 Festival was the most spectacular yet. It attracted substantially more balloonists and spectators and this growth looks set to continue. New activities and improvements continue to be made to enhance the event each year. An Economic Impact Survey conducted at the 2008 Event shows the importance of the Festival to the City of Hamilton, not only in  the 6.7million injected into the community, but by the numbers of visitors the Event attracts to the region.

Trustees come from a wide background and includes members of the local business community. They generously provide their time and expertise at no charge. The services of a professional General Manager and Assistant General Manager  are contracted to manage the event and an experienced flight director is engaged to control the technical aspects of the ballooning programme. Many hundreds of volunteers enable us to smoothly run this wonderful Festival.



The Balloons over Waikato Trust relies on the generosity of sponsors to stage the Festival for which admission is currently free. Any money left over from running each Festival is used to build subsequent events. A local charity is given the opportunity to raise funds for a worthwhile cause during the event in return for its assistance.  This year that charity is the Lions Clubs International.



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