High Kitty, the lucky charm of hot air, the first special shape hot air balloon announced to take to the skies during the 2017 Wairarapa Balloon Festival. 

The 33 metre tall gigantic balloon, will travel down-under from her home in Dallas Texas, USA to New Zealand to attend the Festival being held across the region over Easter Weekend, from 13th to 17th April 2017. 

“This enormous, special-shaped balloon is going to excite the crowd,” says event manager, Ms Cherry-Campbell. “High Kitty will certainly get noticed as it will be hard to miss the bright pink ‘Manei-neko’ (Japanese for beckoning cat) and she’ll capture the imagination of everyone!”

High Kitty will be joined by best friend, owner and pilot Michael Loy (who is looking forward to enjoying pies and pavlovas again), a certified commercial hot air balloon pilot, and his Crew Chief Barry Horn. 

The Festival organising committee recently advised a second special-shape for the 2017 festival, the Alien Rocket! Pilot Alain Baird’s main passion has been piloting hot air balloons since 2009. He is one of the rare people in the world to have constructed his own hot air balloon from scratch. In fact he has made two of them, one of them being the special shape Alien Rocket. This new balloon has been flown in some far-away places, including Malaysia and Taiwan, as well as many of the hot air balloon festivals in Canada and the USA.

It will be High Kitty and Alien Rocket Ship’s first outing in New Zealand skies and they will be joined by 20 other hot air balloons. 

Take a balloon ride with one of the country’s top commercial balloon operators from Hamilton at this year’s Wairarapa Balloon Festival to experience the splendour and magic of floating over a changing landscape at sunrise. Flights, which are around an hour long, are offered daily during the festival over Easter Weekend from April 13th to 17th, with early starts to catch the sun rising across the heart of the Wairarapa. You can purchase a balloon ride voucher online through www.eventfinda.co.nz.

The 2017 Wairarapa Balloon Festival programme will feature five days of balloon lift-offs and family-fun entertainment at various venues throughout the region, including a new event added to the festival line up, the ‘Dawn Patrol’, where balloons will lift off in the dark before sunrise creating a magical morning breakfast backdrop for locals and visitors to the region to enjoy. 

“We are delighted to be featuring the ‘WBS Pilot Flight Path’, our own version of an Easter Egg hunt” says Ms Cherry-Campbell. “Kids will follow a secret map giving them the opportunity to meet the pilots along the way, finishing up at the “world famous in the Wairarapa” WBS inflatable obstacle course!”

The festival will also feature the family favourites ‘Resene Splash and Dash’ at Henley Lake and the Copthorne Solway Park’s Night Glow, both held on Friday 14th April. The Copthorne Solway Park’s Night Glow is the main event of the Festival where family entertainment is provided and tethered balloons light up the night sky.  Ms Cherry-Campbell says the aim is to make the 2017 Festival the best yet andshe encourages everyone to join in the various activities over the five days.

The decision to hold the 2017 Festival over Easter weekend came from a number of factors. With daylight saving over, temperatures will be better suited to hot air ballooning and the weather is predicted to be more settled which is important for the 100% weather dependant Festival. This also means that the evening events during the 5-day Festival, including the Tranzit Burner Parade and the Copthorne Solway Park’s Night Glow, will not run so late giving families from out of town the opportunity to enjoy a great night’s entertainment and get home at a reasonable hour with the kids.