Colourful balloons rose into the air yesterday morning to mark the opening of Balloons Over Wairarapa.
Flight director Martyn Stacey said it was a perfect start to the 15th Balloons Over Wairarapa festival.
"I'm lost for words, once again Wairarapa and Carterton can look forward to a fantastic weekend, it was brilliant," he said.
"The balloons have come back and the passengers have come back with big smiles on their faces. That's the magic of hot air ballooning, that's why we love it."
Mr Stacey said the weather conditions had been ideal for the mass ascension and that had been a major boost for the opening day of the ballooning festival, which attracted ballooning enthusiasts from across New Zealand.
Early-morning risers watched as about 20 balloons were raised at Carrington Park shortly after 7am.
Mr Stacey said the experience of one first-time balloonist yesterday epitomised the magic of ballooning. "There was one guy who went up and he was still smiling at 12[pm]," he said. "He was buzzing after it. He loved the experience and couldn't stop talking about it."
The festival continues today with a More FM Balloon Meister's Challenge at Wairarapa College starting at 7am. The event will give pilots an opportunity to showcase their skills. At 4pm there will be a 'Meet the pilots' event at Hood Aerodrome, Masterton.
On Saturday the Wairarapa Times-Age Splash 'n Dash event will take place at 7am at Henley Lake, Masterton, while a Trust House Night Glow event will take place at Solway Showgrounds beginning at 6.30pm.