“Rhythm and Vines is a 3 day international music festival held in Gisborne, New Zealand on December 29-31 each year. It is the first festival in the world to welcome in the first sunrise of the new year.”
Rhythm & Vines Music Festival holds a special place in the hearts of not only New Zealand Kiwis, but music lovers from all around the world. The first festival that sees the New Year before any other country has featured global talent including N.E.R.D, Justice, Flying Lotus, Tame Impala, Rudimental, Mark Ronson and many more. With Tame Impala calling it the most beautiful festival setting they have ever seen and Kimbra calling it an institution, there is a good reason why more than 20,000 people brace the beautiful shores of Gisborne every year. It’s about more than just a banging line-up— it’s a yearly ritual with an unforgettable journey for people all around the country and the globe to celebrate the end of a year and welcome in a new one in the best way imaginable.
To make your journey perfect, Roadtrippers have created this Tripguide for R&V — from how to get there, what to bring, and thoughts on heading home, we’ve got it sorted for you.
Before you head anywhere, download the Roadtrippers app and search for R&V 2017. You’ll find an interactive itinerary with offline maps and alarms so you never have to worry about losing your programme with all your stage selections. Also, don’t forget to pick up a rain poncho (you can grab them at The Warehouse in Auckland and Wellington before you leave). And if you start your trip late at night, you can use R&V coupons on the app to grab coffees and food on the way to Gizzy.
The rolling landscapes and waterholes on the road trip to Gisborne are just a snippet of the picturesque landscapes you’ll see when you’re partying beneath the vines at the festival site. Gisborne is located evenly between New Zealand’s two major cities, Wellington and Auckland and takes around 6.5 hours to drive. Considering this is quite a long road trip and there is so much to see on the way, it’s definitely worth stopping off at some of the great locations before you get there.
If you’re coming from Wellington, break off your journey with a stop off at Napier in the Hawke’s Bay. Its architecture has been preserved since the 1930s, making it one of the purest Art Deco cities on the planet, with Maori motifs and even one of the most unique McDonald’s in the world. So fill up before you get to the festival because you’ll probably be too excited to remember dinner once you get there!
If you’re coming from Auckland, break up your journey halfway at one of New Zealand’s most sacred lakes, Blue Lake (Tikitapu). The beautiful water is collapsed in a volcanic crater and produces an aqua or turquoise colour. There are plenty of spots with great views to chill out in and have a quick picnic or recoup with your friends that fell behind in the convoy on the way.
What to bring
New Zealand’s weather is about as unpredictable as the epic line-up of R&V itself. Try not to forget that there’s a hole in the ozone layer over NZ so to seek refuge from the burning sun, you’ll need to come prepared with your sun block. In the night time, it gets really cold, and there’s also a likely opportunity that it will pour with torrential rain over the three days, so be prepared for any weather. Bring warm clothes, cool clothes, your Glastonbury style gumboots and an extra blanket.
Stock up on your water, snacks and basic food needs (you can’t cook anything there) at the Te Puke Countdown or the Whakatane Countdown if you’re coming from the north, or if you’re driving up from Wellington pop into the Hastings Countdown on the way – or stock up before you leave - as most local stores get cleaned out and make sure someone brings a shade cloth or a gazebo to protect you from the toasty sunlight that you probably won’t notice is burning you when you’re 5 ciders deep.
It will be first in, best dressed when you enter the campsite. Try to get there as early as possible and let your friends know your location when you get in (on the RT app) so they can find you. There’s nothing better than having your whole crew camping together at the campsite, (and it’s also very handy having someone lead you back to your tent in the dark on the way home at night when you’re a bit too wavy to find the camp yourself!)
You can’t park your car next to your tent and the distance between the two can be quite long (700m) so try not to pack too heavy. The festival grounds open from 2pm until 12am and are closed outside of those hours, so try to get there as early as you can.
Three days of dirt, rain and sunshine will more than likely make you feel less than your best. Rhythm and Vines festival-goers regularly choose to take a break from the festival and check out what the small town of Gisborne has to offer. Re-stock your supplies or dine in one of the great local restaurants beside the coast along Gladstone or Wainui and rejoin your friends before you head back into the festival together.
If you’re keen to stay on site, try one of the many food stalls scattered across the festival grounds with the good quality munchies to give you a full belly before you go and boogie again or if you need to freshen up, head to the ‘Powder Room’ where there are mirrors and power points for your straighteners.
Service is usually ok at the festival but please remember there are no powered sites. You can drop your phone off at the charging stations around the venue (you need to leave it for an hour). And if you lose your friends, make the R&V sign your meeting place. Situated halfway up the big hill, the sign creates the perfect meeting spot for the very likely case that one of you will get totally lost and can’t find the rest of the crew.
Where to go
There are four stages offering a wide range of genres to choose from. Apart from seeing some of the best local and international talent at the Rhythm Supertop, try checking out some stand-up comedy at the Discovery Stage or bring your togs to the blow-up waterslides around the grounds.
Don’t miss the New Year’s Eve fireworks as the New Year rolls in or watching the sunrise from the Vines Stage on the first day of the year. Another thing that makes R&V so special is being able to see the sun before anyone else in the rest of the world. It’s a moment you’ll share with other happy punters that you’ll remember forever.
Most of us are usually left exhausted and pretty filthy on the journey home from festivals, but the advantage of Rhythm and Vines’s location is the secrets spots off the beaten track on the way out. As you may have had the odd can during R&V, get yourself breath tested at one of the radio station bases on the way out in order to keep yourself and passengers safe, as there are heaps of traffic cops positioned on the route home.
To break up the journey, rather than driving straight home, stop at Rere Falls in Gisborne on the way. R&V is about the whole journey, including post-festival exploring so stop off for a chill at one of New Zealand’s greatest natural playgrounds. The falls feature a 60m long natural water slide with smooth rocks from the constant running water of the Wharekopae River. Bring a boogie board or an inflatable mattress to officially bring in the New Year in a way that you’ll never forget!
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