He's an IT worker by day and an alien rocket hot-air balloon pilot the rest of the time.

Canadian Alain Bard, 42, is in Hamilton this week with his 29-metre home-made balloon as part of the annual Balloons Over Waikato.

The Alien Rocket, which Bard finished making in 2015, is one of five special shape balloons in Hamilton this week.

A cartoon-style helicopter called Copter Boy, from China, and Big Hug, from Brazil, will also float over the Waikato skies this week, along with Love is in the Air and Robbie for Ronald McDonald House, which is a balloon in a wheelchair, from the United States.


They will be joined by a further 18 hot air balloons, including 13 from New Zealand and two from Australia.

Bard, who is in New Zealand for the first time, said people were usually blown away when they first saw the Alien Rocket floating in the sky above.

"Most special shapes are what I call cute. They are made to look cute - they are happy and smiley. But I wanted a balloon that was cool, not cute. I think I've nailed it with this balloon," Bard said.

The balloon took 800 hours of sewing over six months and attended its first festival a year ago. Although tall, the rocket ship's volume is relatively small so it could contain only a small amount of hot air and can carry only one passenger.

Bard says he built an alien rocket to spark an interest in space among children. He has been fascinated by space since he was a young boy seeing the space shuttle fly over on the back of a 747.

"The fact that it's an alien theme has nothing to do with conspiracy theories or anything like that. It's just thinking about our place on this planet and that we are not the only ones out there."

Bard works in IT during the day, but said flying had always been a hobby.

"Basically anything that flies I've tried it ... Then later on in life I tried ballooning and I fell in love straight away. The cool thing about ballooning is that every time you take off, you have no real idea exactly where you are going to land."

When he takes off tomorrow - weather depending - it will mark the sixth county he's flown a balloon in. But he did not think New Zealand's weather conditions would be very different from Canada's.

"You become an expert not just in reading the weather briefing, but looking outside and looking at what's going on with the clouds and making a decision to go or not to go."

Balloons over Waikato general manager Michele Connell said the forecast looked promising for the 20 balloons to take off tomorrow, although there could be some fog looming.

"The only thing is there may be a little bit of fog because of the heat that is here, so we just have to keep an eye on that, but other than that all good."

A pilot briefing would be held at 6.30am and a decision would be made then about whether and where they would fly.

"But we are very hopeful."

Balloons over Waikato starts tomorrow morning with the Mass Ascension at Hamilton Lake.

What's on

Wednesday March 22:

The Hamilton Mass Ascension - Innes Common, 7.30am

Thursday March 23:

The Wel Energy Trust Breakfast at Dawn - Innes Common, 6.30am

Friday March 24:

Friday Fly Off, Innes Common, 7.30am

The City Burn and Markets, 6pm to 8pm, Garden Place

Saturday March 25:

The Smartrak Cash Grab Competition, Innes Common, 7.30am

The Zuru Nightglow, the University of Waikato, 4pm - 9pm

Sunday March 26:

The Great Grassroots Trust Finale - Innes Common, 7.30am

For a full schedule visit www.balloonsoverwaikato.co.nz