Nothing says a New Zealand summer better than an outdoor festival and few festivals savour and celebrate the outdoors better than Splore - Auckland's boutique music and arts festival on a sandy shore, just far enough from the city.
Imagine pulling up your boat and picnicking on an idyllic sandy beach, relaxing and partying from daylight to dusk to the sounds of summer good times, and snuggling down to the beat of the surf. A summertime favourite for locals and visitors, the Splore Festival presents as an epic adventure tucked away in a piece of paradise and packed with creative content and entertainment including music, performance, visual art, workshops and forums.
From around the globe, festival-goers converge on Tapapakanga Regional Park (70km or an easy one-hour journey south east of Auckland) for three days of socialising and sharing, relaxing and partying beach-side under the warm February sun.
It’s been proclaimed as ‘one of the best festival locations in the world’ by visiting international music acts who also get to experience a dose of Kiwiana complete with a Māori powhiri welcome.
With a beautiful safe swimming beach surrounded by spreading 100-year-old pohutukawa trees and a fresh water lagoon to plunge in, this festival never fails to impress first-time visitors. And the chilled out, friendly vibe often leaves people describing it as a life-changing experience as they emerge from their festival escapade with renewed optimism and enthusiasm for life.
Festival-goers can pitch a tent, park a van or - for those that like a little more luxury - glamping sites are available. Hiring a campervan is a popular option, and the Mighway service is perfect for a short break for festivals when accommodation is tight. This peer-to-peer model connects motorhome owners with renters, much like Airbnb for apartments or Bookabach for holiday homes.
Boats are welcome to pull into the calm bay and have a direct view of the beachside stage.
The festival programme of music and art caters for all ages, even the kids have their own zone in the Charlie’s Rumpus Room. There is a dedicated performance area in the Living Lounge and an extensive art trail with site specific installations by some of New Zealand’s top contemporary artists. The food options are affordable and delicious with just about every cuisine imaginable on offer.
In contrast to typical festival scenarios, Splore’s greatest point of difference might just be the lack of rubbish and cleanliness of the site, setting the tone and a narrative for people to ‘love and respect’ the world.
Splore was the first New Zealand festival to claim the international ‘Green Festival award’ for environmentally-aware festivals that have taken significant steps to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions, and engage with their audience.
The festival has a target of 85% diversion of waste to landfill and asks the audience to actively participate in this goal. Many initiatives have been introduced over the years to minimise the festival’s footprint including encouraging car-pooling and subsidising public transport, reusable drinking vessels and a recycling system that is manned with volunteers to ensure it works.
The Tapapakanga Regional Park is such a beautiful setting and the festival is so inspirational that some couples choose to get married during the event. There hasn’t been a Splore without a wedding yet.
Tapapakanga Regional Park is located a one-hour drive south east of downtown Auckland. The nearby rural village of Clevedon is home to the Clevedon Farmers Market, a popular spot for locals to pick up fresh produce and artisan products.