For a long time, an Auckland New Year’s Eve meant donning your finest ‘nightclub’ outfit and heading to the Viaduct to jostle for bar and dance floor space until the countdown catapulted you into a new year. Thanks to Wondergarden, you can now make a commitment to a newer, fresher, transformed you with the latest New Year’s Eve festival.
Wondergarden brings together New Zealand’s up-and-coming artists in an eclectic line-up; it’s a chance to support and uncover local artists in a musical and visual celebration. The popular one-stage format keeps your crew together and keeps the vibes consistent. And with only 3,500 tickets available, it’s an intimate setting to bring in the new year.
Rather than feeling FOMO at the friends who took off to one of NZ’s big camping festivals, you get to enjoy a leisurely day with like-minded souls in the picturesque setting of Silo Park. Forget stressing at 3am about where you pitched your tent, Wondergarden is the anti-camping NYE festival, where after watching the midnight fireworks atop the Skytower from your awesome vantage point, you get to head home to the comfort of your own bed.
The all-ages nature of Wondergarden means there is no ‘type’ attending – a mix of generations, musical tastes and lifestyles come together to enjoy an afternoon and evening of NZ artists, roaming performers, lighting installations and street food. All set against the backdrop of the beautiful mariner and Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Wondergarden early bird tickets go on sale in September. Children under five go free, though you must still ‘purchase’ a ticket as the venue has a strict capacity. While no pass-outs are not allowed, parents can re-enter after dropping home the kids to the babysitter. Children 5-12 have discounted ticket costs, and 13-17-year-olds require an adult ticket plus a guardian. However, there is a dedicated zone with games and workshops to occupy and amuse them if needed.
Wondergarden runs from 2pm to 1am and you can bring your own food to Silo Park’s traditional picnic setting. You cannot bring alcohol in, and any glass items are also banned (including baby food). The bar has a two-drink maximum that keeps the drinking at a mellower pace than you might usually see on NYE. Note there is a strictly enforced liquor ban outside the venue. If you’d like to leave the hassle of packing a picnic at home, there is a range of food truck vendors on site, including vegan options. As a zero-waste festival, bar drinks are served in the Globelet reusable cup and there are recycling bins around the joint. And Silo Park is also fully wheelchair accessible.
Along with an empty bottle for the water refill stations, ensure you pack a hat and sunscreen for the day. Layers are a good idea in case the evening turns chilly. And don’t forget your comfiest dancing shoes.
LAND OF NOD
Get organised early if you need accommodation as, while there is usually a mass exodus of Aucklanders over the holiday period, other New Zealanders and international guests flock in, filling hotels, apartments, and hostels.
Due to Wondergarden’s location, getting there and away by bus or train is easiest. Parking is tight and taxis and Ubers are hard to grab at the end of the night, so book transport in advance or prepare to walk home if it’s not too far. And remember, it is residential around Silo Park so keep this in mind when you’re leaving.
If you’re planning on roadtripping to Wondergarden, consider adding a day or two on Waiheke, or out at any of the Waitakere beaches to recover from the hangover and cushion your return to real life.