Recently I went up to the Hunter Valley for the weekend to celebrate The Aussie’s birthday. I’ve only been up there once before to see The Rolling Stones play at Hope Estate a few years ago, but apart from that I’ve never explored the area. Yep, if you didn’t already know, famous musicians play in the Hunter Valley every summer!
Apart from wine tasting, what else was there to do in the area? I found out that a sunrise balloon flight was a top attraction so once I broke the news to my non-early riser Aussie that he would have to wake up at 4am on his birthday for a surprise that would be worth it, he hoped it would be a balloon flight. He was right.
I also found out that sunset flights don’t exist, that’s not because they don’t do them in the Hunter Valley, it’s actually illegal and only sunrise flights are allowed in Australia.
There’s quite a few ballooning companies to choose from but I picked Balloon Aloft because not only did they have great reviews, they also offered a champagne gourmet breakfast. This sounded a perfect way to bring in The Aussie’s birthday.
Drone shot from above. Balloon Safaris has now merged under Balloon Aloft.
I learnt that the balloon flight is an experience. Expect it to take about 3.5 hours from start to finish with a 45 minute flight.
We woke up just before 4am and made sure we met everyone down at Peterson’s House, just a five minute drive from our hotel at the Mercure Hunter Valley Gardens Resort at 4:30am. It’s vital you’re there by 4:30am as they can leave without you to ensure everyone gets to the sunrise in time.
From there, we signed some forms, picked our gourmet breakfast option and we popped into a minibus to be driven to a site that we could take off from. Because the weather was rubbish, we had to drive to another site but we weren’t waiting around too long.
Before I knew it, we were able to watch the whole process of the balloon come off the trailer from the bus and be ready to take off. I’ve never seen that before. Well, I’ve been on one balloon flight before in Vang Vieng Laos, the infamous tubing town. The balloon was a bit on the dodge side in Laos but to be able to see the balloon from trailer to take off in the Hunter Valley was quite spectacular.
There were 4 compartments in the basket big enough for 16 people to fly in total so we were put with another couple to enjoy the flight. You can however book your own private balloon which one couple did as the guy was going to propose as we were told. And what a great way to propose to someone other than in the Hunter Valley! We were shown how to get into the basket and what to do when we were about to land and once we took off, it was so peaceful and beautiful seeing all of the vineyards from up above, that you could see the vast scale of how many vineyards are located in the area.
After about 40 minutes, we started to head back towards our landing area. Our pilot said; ‘we might actually tip’. I thought he was joking until the balloon ahead of us actually tipped on their landing. I was slightly worried but when we did land, the balloon did tip in a slow motion pace but it was really fun.
Once the landing was over, we all had to crawl out of the balloon but everyone was smiling and laughing at the experience.It was all hands on afterwards and we all pitched in to get the balloon back onto the trailer.
We were driven back to Peterson’s for our gourmet breakfast around 7:45am with champagne and lindt chocolates. We had the option of picking either a vegetarian breakfast, full breakfast, pancakes or muesli.
I picked the muesli and The Aussie had the vegetarian breakfast. His looked really fresh and he said it was great. The musli was a bit sweet for me but because I have SIBO, my food tolerances aren’t the best!After the flight!
So after three and a half hours, we made our way back to our hotel to sleep before we were off for a surprise birthday lunch with The Aussie’s family.
Would I recommend the balloon flight with Balloon Aloft? Absolutely. They were were friendly, professional and lovely people to spend the morning with. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t get to see a sunrise due to the weather but if it was a good day, the sunrise would be spectacular.
Check out my video of our experience below!
Have you been on a balloon flight before? Let me know where you experienced it and when below in the comments.
Thanks for reading!