Picture this… you rise to the sound of waves crashing against the shore and sun streaming into your campsite. Throwing on some togs and jandals, you stumble 500m to the turquoise waters of Raglan’s Ngaruni Beach, diving in to rinse off last night’s dance floor sweat. Energised, you make your way to the festival grounds, picking up a flat white before browsing the market stalls for handcrafted bargains. Souvenir in hand, you position yourself hillside ready for the first act to take to the main stage. This is summer festival nirvana. This is Soundsplash.
Held at Wainui Reserve in January, Soundsplash is an extension of the hippy surf mecca Raglan, offering a place to unplug beachside. Experience the perfect NZ summer with 40+ of your favourite rock, roots and reggae artists playing across three stages. Soundsplash is not just about the music; they care equally about the earth as they do the tunes. With the wind in your hair, sun on your face, an eco bag under your arm, and your best boho ensemble get ready to live the Kiwi dream.
Gates open 8am Friday, going through to 6pm Sunday and early bird tickets go on sale in May. Around 7,500 tickets are sold and about 85% camp so don’t hold out too long to get your crew sorted. The whole fam is welcome, with kids going free (to age 15) and discounted youth tickets on offer for 16-17-year-olds.
Aside from the local and international acts playing Soundsplash, you can also experience art, yoga, dance, and more in the festival’s wellbeing workshops. If that seems like too much effort, there are plenty of chill-out zones to hang in. Children are entertained at the dedicated Little Splash Zone.
Soundsplash has a core focus on sustainability and you can do your bit by using the correct bins on site (you’ll be given biodegradable bags), removing packaging before you leave home, and leaving no trace on exit.
While you can bring your own food in, you’ll be ditching your protein bar in a hot minute to feast on the local eats; lines can get long though. Bring a water bottle for the free refill station but leave the booze and glass at home - security check everyone carefully on entry and police are quick to issue fines if this rule is breached. When buying booze, you’ll need to use the AWOP cashless wristband, and the marketplace takes cash and EFTPOS too. You’ll also find a solar charging station here so you can post that Insta pic to make your friends at home jelly.
Prepping for the Soundsplash is easy: you’ll need sunscreen, warm layers and maybe gumboots for the schizophrenic NZ weather. Swimwear is a must, and a torch is handy after sundown.
Raglan is small so camping is the most affordable accommodation option. It’s split into four zones – two for tents only; Field of Dreams for tent and car, (best views too); and the camper vehicle area. Once you’re parked up, you can’t take your vehicle out again, although on-foot pass outs are allowed.
If you’re not a camper, check the two Raglan motels, Airbnb or Bookabach for a crib, using the free shuttle to go back and forth between the festival.
DRIVE ‘EM CRAZY
If you’re coming from Hamilton, consider the dedicated Soundsplash bus. It departs 9am or 11am Friday, returning 4pm Sunday so you can have a hassle-free hangover ride home.
If you are driving, car-pooling is encouraged. The one-way bridge causes congestion so be a legend and consider finding a new friend or two to get everyone in quickly. It’s only an hour from Hamilton (closest airport) or an easy 2-hour drive from Auckland. No matter where you’re road tripping from, make time for a detour via the picturesque Bridal Veil Falls. And please note there will be police checkpoints so ensure your driver has fully sobered up before heading home.
No-one knows exactly how many proposals have happened at Bridal Falls along the Pakora River and if you’re lucky, you’ll see one in action (it does happen). The falls are in the Wairēinga Scenic Reserve and have been plunging heartily for such a long time they've caused a large pool at the base, an excellent place to wash salty sweaty festival skin.