We arrived in Hamilton about 10:30 and followed the GPS instructions to the Hamilton West school where the Waikato NZMCA rally was setup.
We met our friends Rob and Helen with daughter Chloe within minutes of arriving. They had come down the night before and had already been up at the crack of dawn to check out the Balloons just over the road at the lake. It was time for a cup of tea.
There was a Dethleffs Sunlight van right behind us in the line which was at Vantage RV when we had our water pump replaced a few days ago so it was nice to see Alan too.
Friends from Taupo, Gary and Dianne arrived not long after and parked beside us in their new Dethleffs XLI. It was nice to see them again too. Within minutes of their arrival, we introduced them to Rob, Helen and Chloe but then made the worrying discovery that the Dometic fridge in the XLI wasn’t running on gas properly so their food was at risk. Potential Motorhomers nightmare!
The last time they were away, the 240v element had failed so they had taken the XLI in to have it repaired. The 240v and 12v worked but the gas that was then working fine, now didn’t work! Don’t you hate it when that happens ! Calls to the original repairer did not help and after shifting the food into our fridge in Rafe to keep it cold while we spent a couple of hours sorting it at least protected their food. After an hour or two, while Gary was on the phone to another technician, he noticed a lose unplugged wire from the gas solenoid that looked like it was important. We took the cover off Rafes fridge to see where it went. After popping off another plastic cover and plugging in this wire, the fridge was away again. Crises averted! Well spotted Gary!
By then it was afternoon tea time and so it would have been rude not have a small celebration for the fridge working again and the fact that the weekend wasn’t going to be disaster after all!
At around 6 pm and after a fridge debrief, a few glasses of wine, cups of coffee and tea and cheese and bikkies, we left to head to the Balloon festival.
The Hamilton council had done a wonderful job with the bus system and had laid on free buses for all to get to this fantastic event. We were told that we had to use the green route buses which made it really easy. The bus picked us up from just outside the school and delivered us to the Waikato University campus, some 20 minutes or so later to see thousands of people eagerly waiting for the balloons. It was a great atmosphere and people everywhere having a good time. There was quite a well setup sideshow area too. Huge queues for the food stalls but that didn’t seem to worry anyone.
At about 7:30, the balloons started to get inflated but then the rain came down. This put a bit if a halt to the other balloons inflating but as they say, the show must go on and the music continued. A huge fireworks show followed. Despite the brief rain, everyone seemed to have a good time and it was a great show.
We arrived back at the school campground by 10pm after getting onto the second bus out. Again, an amazingly efficient bus system and to clear that volume of people so quickly with no dramas was extremely well done.
In the morning, we walked over to the beautiful Hamilton Lake park to watch the balloonists inflate their balloons. Again, the weather wasn’t playing the game and there was too much wind for the balloons to fly but it was a great spectacle all the same.
A great day and well done Hamilton council and buses for doing such a great job and hosting a great event, despite the weather.