If there is one event in New Zealand that extracts the best of its attendees, it’s boutique festival, Splore. With a brilliant bayside location at Tapapakanga Regional Park, the local Maori iwi open their sacred land for three transformational days of music, art, friendship and feel-good vibes.
While an eclectic range of international and local acts fill the festival’s six stages, Splore is less focused on the line-up and more on creating an arena where you can express yourself as freely as you see fit. Here you’ll find typically conservative Kiwis unleashing a more whimsical, creative side and if come to Splore with an open mind and a flexible attitude, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts.
THE SPLORE SKINNY Splore has been running this intimate event since 1998 with the organisers travelling the globe seeking the best performers to complement the festival’s beloved ambiance. Alongside the headliners, you’ll also find performing artists, visual arts, workshops, speakers and holistic practitioners. Through this, Splore provides the best kind of sensory overload. Each festival is themed and costumes are expected for Saturday at the very least. 6,000 tickets go on sale from June onwards.
Splore’s gates open at 8am on Friday, with music kicking off at noon. The last act drops the mic 4pm on Sunday and you’ve three hours to depart. If you’d like a little more set-up time, nab one of the 500 early bird passes for Thursday.
Managing your dollars at Splore is easy utilising the AWOP cashless system - you only need show your waterproof wristband to pay for everything, so the transition from bay to bar is seamless. Due to the event’s restrictions, BYO alcohol is not permitted, and the bar is well stocked to accommodate this.
Packing for Splore is simple – pack costumes, your togs, and a puffa jacket. Yep, the weather can be a varied, so prep accordingly. It’s best to pack the day ahead as the goat hill trek to camp is notorious. But do take advantage of the beauty of Tapapakanga, including swims between sets and sunrise atop lookout point.
Getting to Splore is best planned with carbon footprint consideration. Hop on the subsidised bus from Auckland, or save dollars by travelling with three or more in your vehicle to receive a parking pass rebate. Want to Splore in style? Arrive by boat, but pre-registration is a must.
Splore is a committed camping festival and staying onsite is included in the ticket price, though you can pay more if you want to reserve a site. If you feel like skipping the camping set up altogether, opt for fancy glamping by Wildernest, or choose from eco-friendly teepees. Every car entering must have a parking pass, and campervans/RVs need to pay for a dedicated site. Gas cookers and BBQs are permitted so you can bring your own kai (food). Though food vendors, with a focus on nutritious ingredients, offer delectable fare from around the world that is hard to match with your Coleman stove.
Splore prides itself on its sustainability efforts with their ‘leave no trace’ motto. This means bringing a water bottle for the free refill stations, using the reusable Globelet cups for bar beverages and pre-cycling – aka removing any food packaging before you leave home.
Splore isn’t just for the big kids; it has a fantastic name for free-spirited families to include the whole tribe. Kids under 13 go free and there are discounts for teens. There are dedicated camping areas for families and the beloved Rumpus Room area can provide respite for children finding the crowds overwhelming.
The road to Splore can be windy with sharp corners so take extra care. Expect some traffic jams (use the festival Facebook page for updates) and get your musical jams with the Splore Spotify playlist. But please remember you can expect police checkpoints along your route.
On the way home, it’s worth a detour to the Miranda Hot Springs (30km) to immerse your muscles in their relaxing pool after three days of solid dancing. If you have a little more time on your hands to decompress, the Coromandel is defintely worth exploring.