Some Mums make mothering look easy. Completely effortless. You know the kind – the ones who float through motherhood with bubs in a front pack and the wind in their perfectly dishevelled hair.
That’s never been me. I’ve always been ‘that’ Mum. The constantly flustered one that has a gaggle of kids scuttling round like an unruly brood of constantly quacking ducklings and the remnants of breakfast in my haven’t-seen-myself-in-the-mirror-for-days hair.
So when I was offered the opportunity to be a cool, take-your-kids-to-a-music-festival Mum for a weekend, I jumped at the chance. After all, how hard could it be?
Where we went
The lovely people from Splore Festival invited us to stay for the weekend in a Reserved Family Campsite.
What we did
We packed the least possible amount of camping gear into the car and headed away on Friday morning to Tapapakanga Regional Park, about an hour’s drive south east of Auckland City.
How it went
We arrived around midday on Friday – early enough to beat the rush so it didn’t take us long to get through the check in process. We were given our wristbands which come with a nifty AWOP chip so there’s no need to mess around with cash. Then we headed to the carpark area which is a short walk from the campsite but still far enough to not want to make too many trips to carry gear to where it needs to be.
We had a reserved campsite so our spot had been pre-allocated. It was easy to find, and we pitched our tent before heading off to find some lunch and load up our AWOP wristbands. These are way cool. The tweenagers could have their own – they loved the idea of being able to buy their own food and drinks, and we loved the fact that we could control how much money was on them.
There is so much to see and do at Splore – from the music on the mainstage through to the performance art at Lucky Star. There’s an art walk for some quiet time, and a marketplace to browse. There are all day activities for the kids at the Little Island Rumpus Room and a Wellness Centre for some kid-free time to have a facial, a massage or go to any one of the free sessions on offer. I chose sound healing and laughing yoga – two very different but equally enjoyable experiences. But hands down the most fun we had was learning to twerk at the Living Lounge.
The food was outstanding – lots of healthy and nutritious options and all very reasonably priced. We fed our family of two adults and three growing tweenagers at dinner time for around $60 – cheaper than Friday night takeaways at home! There are plenty of bars where the grown-ups and you’re allowed to take your drink away with you which means you’re free to roam.
The whole event has a very chilled vibe. Yes, it’s full of party-goers, but they’re all relatively well-behaved making the whole event very family-friendly. The festival is spread out over a huge space so you never feel crowded in, and there are plenty of places to explore. Saturday night is dress up night and boy do some people get dressed up! The costumes were simply amazing and while we loved seeing them, we made a mental note to make more effort ourselves next time!
Sustainability is a huge focus for Splore. All serveware is compostable and you’re strongly encouraged to use refillable cups and water bottles (which you can buy there if you forget to bring your own). This year there wasn’t any bottled water for sale, but there were plenty of free water taps around the site for refilling your own water bottles. Each recycling station is manned by people who are happy to help you work out whether what you’re throwing away is recyclable, compostable or heading to the landfill.
We loved our time at Splore. While we did find the weekend challenging with three tweenagers in tow and a lot of rain and mud to contend with – we made the most of what was on offer and came away having seen, heard and tried lots of new things. And we learned how to ‘do’ Splore which will make next year (and yes, three thumbs up from the Tweenagers means there will be a next year) even better.
What I’d recommend
Get there early to avoid the traffic and check in queues. For the really keen, you can pay extra to check in on Thursday evening, leaving you all day Friday to relax and enjoy.
Pack light. You can’t drive up to your campsite so you’ll have to carry all your gear a good couple of hundred metres from your carpark to your campsite.
If you can afford it, upgrade to a reserved campsite. They’re closer to amenities like food and the shuttle bus that can make getting tired legs up and down the road to the festival space a lot more manageable.
Study the website before you go. There are so many amazing things to see and do, so hatching a bit of a plan beforehand will make sure you get the most out of the weekend. Give the Splore playlist on Spotify a listen or two as well. It’ll help you work out which bands you’d like to see.
There are some things you need to book in advance – like massages and Wellness Centre consultations – most of which are only available on the Thursday and Friday. Oh, and the Breakfast Bar for a delicious cooked beachfront breakfast. This sells out weeks before the event, so get in early!
If rain is in the forecast take gumboots as the site can get muddy, and a rain poncho.
What to take
An eftpost card to load money onto your AWOP wristband. You can use a credit card at some stations, but there is a 2.5% surcharge.
Refillable drink bottle – single use water bottles aren’t for sale, but you can refill your own drink bottles for free. If you forget, you can buy Globelet reusable drink bottles from the marketplace.
A costume. Dress up night is taken very seriously with some amazing costumes on show. You’ll feel very drab if you don’t make an effort.
A relaxed attitude and a bit of patience. The team and volunteers work hard to make the event as awesome as it is, so a little bit of consideration towards them goes a long way.
Check out the other experiences we’ve tried!
Tickets to Splore Festival were given to us by the event organisers, but the experiences and opinions in this blog post are my own.
I have friends who go to Splore every year and spend months planning their costumes for Saturday night – it looks so fun and I’ve always wanted to give it a go – and now that you’ve written this as a newbie to Splore, it makes it sound even more appealing. You do great reviews, Polly! x
Thanks Simone. Yes we really did feel very under done on dress up night and will definitely make more of an effort next year. See you there in 2018!