Anna Smith reminisces on her glamping experience at the Splore Festival near Auckland in 2020.
Glastonbury may be cancelled, but there’s an idyllic, intimate festival happening on the other side of the world in New Zealand. It’s a magical little festival I was lucky enough to attend in 2020, little knowing it would be my last of the year. Set on the shores of the stunning Tapapakanga Regional Park, a hour’s drive from Auckland, Splore is a boutique music and arts fest with that essential offering: glamping.
Flash back to February 2020, before New Zealand had a single Covid case, and we’ve pre booked a bell tent with Wildernest, who supply luxury glamping for well-heeled (booted?) festivalgoers. The ticket includes premium car parking, so there’s barely any walking required before a swift check in to the glamping area. Friendly staff show us to our bell tent, officially a two person but absolutely huge by typical festival standards – you could probably host 10 people if you wanted to. The double bed is large and comfortable with a duvet, and there are high end toiletry products of hotel standards. It’s a short stumble to hot showers and the very popular beauty area where you can do your sparkly festival make up and style your hair, something all ages are taking very seriously when we pop by. They’re doing welcome drinks on the first day, so we sit in the sunshine and chat to fellow glampers over bubbly. It’s a lovely mix of couples, families and groups of friends – perhaps slightly older than the 20 and 30 somethings who typify the festival, so we fit right in.
Fancy dress is strongly encouraged – the theme is Infinity – so we don shiny festival gear and head out to explore the main event. Up on top of the hill near us, there’s a fun village full of food, drink and clothing stalls: you have no excuse if you’ve forgotten your festi clobber. The really spectacular part, though, is down the winding, slightly perilous looking path to the long beach. There, you can marvel at the glistening sea and find the main stages for talks and acts, and a string of cute little DJ bars where you can waft in or out according to your musical taste. We find some great drum’n’bass before heading to the lake for a swim in gorgeous surroundings – we feel in harmony with nature, despite the beats in the background.
The acts at Splore 2020 are an eclectic global mix: we enjoy Japan’s Hatenkohro and UK’s Kate Tempest. But my favourite part of a festival is always the people, and the tiny party tents you happen upon when it gets dark. We enter an Alice in Wonderland type tunnel and emerge in a room of mirrors, fluoro lighting and fake fur, chatting to Kiwi VJs and other friendly folk. Walking back up the hill after that is no small feat and we are grateful to fall into the massive double bed afterwards.
After weeks of drought in New Zealand, it appears the Brits have brought the weather with them, so we’re glad to be under very solid canvas the next morning. But – being Brits – we are also prepared, and eventually head out in our macs in the downpour. We are rewarded by a spot at a treehouse beach bar, sheltering there with a rolling rotation of friendly punters, mostly Kiwi and Aussie with the occasional Brit. Soon enough, the sun comes out again, and we dance and laugh and sink into that beautiful bed again, feeling lucky, but not knowing how lucky we really are. I wish those fortunate enough to be at Splore 2021 an amazing time – and here’s hoping we can all be glamping around the globe again soon.
Images (c) Dane Scott and Serena Stevenson
Tell Me More About the Splore Festival and New Zealand
This year’s Splore is 26-28 March 2021. More info and news on Splore 2022 available.
Tell Me More About Wildernest
Wildernest provides bespoke, luxurious glamping getaways with ensuite bathrooms for private holidays as well as festivals, weddings and pop-up hotels.
Getting to New Zealand
Airlines including Cathay Pacific fly from London Heathrow to Auckland via Hong Kong. Check here for updates on travelling to New Zealand. For more tourist info on New Zealand check out Tourism New Zealand