Whether you want to make a romantic gesture or have a once-in-a-lifetime experience with your crew, hot air ballooning is pretty up there when it comes to magical experiences. After all, there’s just nothing quite like watching the world disappear below you as you soar off into the clouds above.
And with such stunning and varied landscapes spanning NSW, why wouldn't you want to see them from above? From glorious coastlines and bucolic pastures to rolling vineyards and rugged mountainscapes, NSW has some stellar spots to soak up from above. What really makes us swoon, though, is catching all these vistas at sunrise, when the technicolour sky goes from indigo to rosy pink to blood orange to soft blue. Dreamy.
Keen to take off into the clouds? Here are the best places to go hot air ballooning in NSW.
It doesn't get much better than soaring above verdant hills, vineyards, and sprawling farmland, which is why Canowindra may just be the top spot in the state to go hot air ballooning. Situated between Orange and Cowra on the Belubula River, the historic town is surrounded by picturesque pastures. But it's not just the scenery that makes it such a top spot for flying. Every April, the Canowindra International Balloon Challenge sees a ton of hot air balloons take to the skies across nine days. It's one of the biggest hot air balloon events in the Southern Hemisphere, with an estimated 5000 visitors travelling to the region to partake and watch the spectacle. This year, the event is running from Saturday 2 April to Sunday 10 April, culminating with the spectacular Cabonne Community Balloon Glow at which hot air balloons light up the night sky.
As Canowindra is known as the "Balloon Capital of Australia", there are numerous companies offering hot air balloon flights. Balloon Aloft has partnered with Canowindra International Balloon Challenge for the event and is operating passenger flights at sunrise on four days, meaning you can get in on the action. Flights cost $350 per person. Book here.
Balloon Joy Flights is also offering flights every day during the festival that include a champagne picnic brekkie after you get your feet back on the ground. Plus, Balloon Joy operates hot air balloon rides year-round in this region, with packages ranging from magical sunrise flights and short ascents for groups to private jaunts and ones for special occasions. Prices range from $230–650 per person. Book here.
Adventure experience platform Adrenaline also lists hot air ballooning rides over Canowindra, as does Red Balloon.
Planning a cheeky wine trip to the Hunter? Why not tack on a hot air balloon flight above the vines to really make it a memorable trip—even after all those vino samples. You'll get to see Australia's oldest wine region from a new perspective, which is pretty cool, too. From way up in the clouds, the Valley transforms into a patchwork of fields, vineyards, and groups of gum trees. Like any hot air balloon flight, the scenery is most magical at sunrise, which means waking up bright and early—trust us, it's worth it.
As the Hunter is a popular tourist spot, there are a few operators to choose from. Beyond Ballooning is a local family-owned and -operated business that runs daily flights. If you're into romantic gestures, its smallest balloon holds just two passengers for a cool $1699–1999. Otherwise, its fleet of hot air vessels can take groups, with its regular rides costing $279 per person. Book here.
Hunter Valley Ballooning has been offering daily flights above the region for decades and specialises in premium ballooning experiences. Prices for group rides cost $289–309 per person, while exclusive ones will see you paying $1999 for a couple and $2800 for a group. Book here.
Balloon Aloft is another operator and it has a range of flights to suit any kind of flyer (and budget). Whichever flight package you choose, you'll take in views of endless vineyards, mountain ranges, national parks, and farmland as you float through the clouds. Book here.
Klook, Red Balloon, and Adrenaline also offer hot air balloon trips in the Hunter Valley.
There are many reasons to book a trip to Byron Bay—the sun, the surf, the restaurants, the markets... the list goes on. If you're keen to soak up the beauty of the coastal town and surrounding hinterland, you can't go wrong with an ascent into the clouds.
Local company Byron Bay Ballooning operates sky-high adventures over the coastline or hinterland—and, as Byron is Australia's most easterly point, you'll be one of the first to see the sunrise. The one-hour flight is followed by brekkie at Three Blue Ducks' The Farm, too. Flights start at $279 per person. Book here.
Balloon Aloft also flies in Byron Bay. Depending on the wind conditions on the day of your hot air ballooning, you could be soaring above the ocean, rolling hinterland, or scenery around towns like Bangalow, Mullumbimby, Nimbin or Lismore. Flights start at $260 per person and also include breakfast at The Farm. Book here.
You can also book hot air ballooning experiences in Byron via Adrenaline and Red Balloon.
The Northern Rivers region is currently experiencing floods and heavy rainfall, so be sure to check any weather warnings via the Bureau of Meteorology.
For more bucolic vistas, make the 3.5-hour car trip to Mudgee for a hot air balloon trip above paddocks, parklands, valleys, mountains, and more. Plus, it's got the bonus of being a place of many attractions, from wine country to buzzing regional eateries. On a hot air balloon trip here you'll truly take in all that fresh country air.
Balloon Aloft runs the game here, offering sunrise flights every Thursday – Monday. Your adventure begins at Mudgee's Cade Kitchen before getting ready for take-off. Then you'll soar the skies for about an hour, followed by a hearty breakfast. Prices range from $299–319. Book here.
You can also book via Adrenaline, Red Balloon, Klook, and Thrill Experiences.
Don't want to travel for hours to get your hot air balloon thrills? Then consider Camden Valley for a float in the sky. Just over an hour's drive from Sydney, Camden Valley boasts stunning landscapes, mountains, rivers, and historic homesteads—all of which you'll get to take in from a bird's eye view.
Again, Balloon Aloft operates in this part of the Macarthur region. Fun fact: the company conducted Australia’s first commercial balloon flight right here more than 40 years ago. This experience includes brekkie at the idyllic Camden Valley Inn (where you can also book a stay for the night before) and prices range from $269–319. Book here.
Now, check out these 9 otherworldly destinations in NSW.
Image credit: Destination NSW, Destination NSW, Destination NSW, Destination NSW, Destination NSW, Balloon Aloft