“Northern Bass is a 3-day R18 music festival in Mangawhai, an hour north of Auckland.”
Nothing says summer like a New Zealand road trip and there’s no better roadie than one to a New Year’s music festival. If heavy bass beats, a stellar line-up, and a chill crowd are your thing, then Northern Bass is a must. Your festival road trip starts the moment you fill the car with your best mates, festie threads and fave snacks, so curate that perfect Northern Bass playlist and hit the road for the 90-minute drive to Mangawhai. Prepping is essential, so read on to get the low down on one of hottest festival experiences in NZ.
THE LOW DOWN
The Northern Bass vibes are a big draw card, with the organisers focusing on the ambiance as much as the music. The line-up is stacked, with around 60 of your favourite international and local artists across two stages. Music is blasting for most of the festival - 10am to 4am – so pacing yourself is essential. (Nobody wants to look after that person, vomiting in the grass at 3pm on day one.)
Northern Bass is cashless but ironically having cash is the best way to get your AWOP card loaded - you’ll use the card to pay for everything on the festival grounds. It’s also smart to bring an empty water bottle with you, as there are refill stations throughout thanks to the festival’s focus on sustainability.
As with any large festival, mobile coverage can be spotty so coordinating meet up times with your mates is essential – and be specific. The sound booth is our go-to meeting point.
You can expect some traffic on your way up so if you’re keen on seeing an artist, allow a buffer to accommodate delays. Check on Waze to monitor jams on SH1 or take the longer, but often quicker SH16 to Wellsford and if you do take SH1, don’t forget you’ve got 5 days to pay your tunnel toll.
Parking is on a first-come, first-served basis, with campers getting priority access. And please note that if you park your vehicle on Settlement Road it will be towed.
Aside from the effusive funk of the portapotties, camping at festivals is the best way to get the most bang-for-your-buck. The recent addition of an early-bird day means you can now party for three days, opting to skip the lines, find the best camping spot and pre-game with your mates. Camping is also the only way to gain multiple entries to the festival. Within the campground, you’ll find food stalls, hot showers, and a bar. You can leave tent mallets and hammers at home – Northern Bass will lend you theirs. However, glass and alcohol from outside the festival are also forbidden on site so leave these at home with your hammer.
With the festival held at Worsfold Farm in rural Mangawhai, it’s best for your crew to stock up in Auckland for your supplies. If you’re camping, you can take in breakfast and snack foods; or if you’ve booked a bach, stock up on high carb meals, otherwise the food at the event is delicious but can be a little pricey.
For other necessities, earplugs should be top of your list – that is if you plan on keeping your hearing until a ripe old age. For this bass-heavy fest, they are a must. The standard sunblock and insect repellent are also must haves to throw in your bag and leave your contact details on your phone lock screen in case you drop it.
As Northern Bass is only 90 minutes out of Auckland, you’ve got plenty of time for a stopover on the way. You’re encouraged to carpool but we recommend going one step further and getting a convoy of your posse together - detours are more fun with friends!
If you’re into surfing then Mangawhai has a decent break. If you’re keen for a dip but not the rip, then Mangawhai Harbour, Picnic Bay especially, (accessed by the steep stairs on the left hand side of the ocean beach carpark) offers calmer waters. The white sandy beaches here are attractive and pro-tip - take a boogie board to the Heads to ride the dunes.
Post-festival recovery can be a brutal beast so chilling on Mangawhai beach for a power nap (with sunscreen), plus an ocean dip to wash the festival grime off your weary body will do just the trick for your hangover. Round it off with Leigh Sawmill’s delicious wood-fired pizza on the drive home.
One final thing, before leaving the grounds, take advantage of the testing stations provided (usually a hook up from the radio crews) to be certain you’re safe to drive. You will pass police checkpoints on the way home so be a legend and ensure you’re road trip ready before you leave the area.
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