Splore is New Zealand’s music and arts festival set in the stunning Tapapakanga Regional Park just one hour south of Central Auckland. Imagine it as a mini Coachella, with wicked art installations and internationally inspiring performers, except rather than needing a dust mask to enjoy the atmosphere, you can look forward to a dip in the ocean after dancing your pants off.
Mystic Ritual was the 2018 theme and my first year attending Splore. Spread across three days from the 23rd to the 25th of February, we knew it was the perfect Kiwi summer festival to look forward to.
Getting to the festival was very easy as we’d pre-purchased express bus tickets through the organisers for $10 per person each way. After spotting fellow festival goers already in full attire, we queued opposite Auckland’s downtown ferry building to exchange tickets for wrist bands and board the 9am bus. There is also the option to drive to Splore, or take a Campervan, but I highly recommend the bus as the most care-free option to accomodate all your friends. Plus we already had our wristbands sorted on arrival and were dropped off right at the campground entrance.
The Camp Grounds
Camping at the festival was included free with standard general admission tickets, but there were also various other optional upgrades. On arrival we could see the various sections – free camping fields, camper vehicle areas, Tepee Life and Glamping. We set up camp in Free Camping North as it was closer to the actual festival grounds where all the stages and stalls were set up and the beach. However if you’re with young ones – yes, this is a family event – or you like your beauty sleep, I suggest making use of either the family or west camp grounds as perhaps a more peaceful option. Alternatively some noise cancelling ear plugs might do the trick!
Getting woken up by some early morning party animals returning to camp wasn’t high on our agenda, but our annoyance with their late and loud antics quickly turned to laughter as we listened in on the cross-tent conversation. Whoever had decided to pump a rap track was being quickly and hilariously shut down by their neighbour preaching don’t play the beat if you’re not gonna rap! Camping, it’s really just one big sleepover isn’t it.
Headlining the festival in 2018 was Dizzee Rascal. He was the artist we were most looking forward to on Friday night and he did not disappoint, blasting classics like Bonkers and Dance Wiv Me. Though Dizzee was the only artist I recognised from the line up, after getting familiar with the Splore Spotify playlist there were several other acts I was keen to see – specifically Too Many Zooz, a brass band from New York, and Eastern Bloc, a DJ from Wellington – all of whom we really enjoyed. One surprise discovery at the festival was the smooth music stylings of Hip Hop artist Raiza Biza, who may be from Rwanda but now also calls New Zealand home! We’re happy to have you Raiza 😉
Dressing up is a major festival highlight and pretty much compulsory. Despite the restrictions of our dressing tent, we did a pretty good job of getting jazzed up for the second night. In terms of festival attire we were quite low key with our outfits, so don’t be afraid to go all out. Splore has been extra since conception. I recall seeing a Yeti, Snow White, The Little Mermaid, and even a bunch of bananas. Nothing is too extravagant. And if you hadn’t yet organised a costume, the Recycle Boutique was on site for those last minute pieces along with Body-FX for face and body make up. There aren’t many places they won’t apply glitter!
Several stages supplied varying vibes depending on your mood or taste. After spending most of Friday at the main stage with Dizzee, we ventured to the Living Lounge in the late afternoon on Saturday and then the Crystal Palace beach front dance bar later that night, where we danced and danced. It was a great night.
Hitting the beach on Sunday morning was the perfect way to freshen up and relax. During the day there were many other performances and wellness workshops to take advantage of as well – like yoga, laughter yoga, making dreamcatchers etc – but in the heat the beach was the perfect place to be.
Food & Drink
Food and drink at the festival was well taken care of, even for a vegetarian. I became particularly fond of the fresh fruit ice cream and Fejoa cider, but there were also Yorkshire pudding wraps, tacos, falafel wraps, acai bowls, gyros and coffee, plus much more.
Splore really is a special event on the summer festival calendar. I think what makes it so great is that whatever you’re into, that’s what Splore is about – expressing yourself and all your beauty. Plus being set in the stunning Tapapakanga Regional Park overlooking the ocean really makes you feel free to embrace that. With all the art and beautiful parkland it really is a utopian escape.
All in all it was an amazing weekend, some even reporting it the best Splore yet! I’ll definitely be returning again and when I do I’ll have the below on my packing essentials list.
Packing Essentials For Splore
- Costume – don’t be the only one left without a costume on dress up night. Plan in advance your outrageous outfit and look forward to the fun of setting it free.
- Camp Flags – dress up doesn’t stop at the outfits, pack in your camp flag or bunting decorations to pimp the crash pad too.
- Bum Bag / Fanny Pack – not only practical for carrying your essentials onto the dance floor, but also an essential part of Splore attire.
- Swimsuit – you’ll be kicking yourself if you forget this when you see the beach.
- Water Bottle – to keep hydrated and refill from the drinking water taps.
- Noise Cancelling Ear Plugs – for an uninterrupted sleep.