Balloon makes sweet visit

Sweet Peas never looked so good – or so big.  Gordonton School played host to a hot-air balloon and its crew on Friday morning as part of the Balloons Over Waikato festival.

To get us started, here are three lovely pics from keen-eyed photographer Stephanie Landon –

C Landon 1
Morning glory
A colourful time was had by all…
C Landon big
Keep at it! Putting the balloon away takes willing helpers…


A foggy start didn’t deter the crowds, who turned up in large numbers (some in warm jackets, some in shorts) to watch the balloon take shape on the playing field.  Meanwhile, hot bacon butties, muffins and drinks were being served by the school’s PTA.


Pilot Neil Aberhart spoke to keen students at the assembly afterwards.  His 21-year-old granddaughter Micha Andrews normally flies Sweet Pea, but was sick with the flu.  “She’s not much taller than many of you here, which goes to show that you don’t have to be big and strong to fly balloons.”


Sweet Pea takes shape through the fog
Concentrating on watching…



Almost there…
Party time!




David McNair flying high


Paige Landon got a birthday ride in Sweet Pea – she turned 12 on Friday – and even ‘drove’ the balloon for a moment. This was a bit scary but exciting, she said. “I just had to turn the lever.”

I can do this!



paige flying
Which way shall we go?
“Oh hi!” Katrina Banks helps the balloon on its flight.


Are you sure about this? Marie Buchanan double checks…

But there was more.  In anticipation of the event, the entire school took part in a special art competition. They were told to make a piece of art featuring hot-air balloons, and they certainly delivered.  Local artist Daniel Mills and Gordonton local Sally-Ann Riddell were the judges, and said they were utterly impressed at the entries, which included collage, paper mache, water colours, dye, ink and ‘stained glass’.

The winners are:

Room 1 – Primo Singh

Room 2 – Bayley George

Room 3 – Josh Gurnell

Room 4 – Corban Gillespie-Reid

Room 5 – Lilly Viitakangas

Room 6 – Shylah Williams

Room 7 – Harrison O’Donghue

Room 8 – Baylee-Rose Bankier

Room 9 – Sophie Hawkins

Room 10 – Max McLennon

Room 11 – Kieran Reynolds


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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

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