About This Festival
Splore takes place every two years in a lovely regional park just south of Auckland on New Zealand’s North Island. It combines live musical performances, caravan and tent camping (even glamping), a family friendly atmosphere, sunny days on the beach, and artist designed trails for revelers to explore. Costumes are encouraged, nay, they are practically required.
The word “splore” (meaning carousing) first appeared in the mid-18th century in Scotland. It’s an apt name for a festival that celebrates the fine art of frolicking, and the setting in Tapapakanga Regional Park lends itself to gallivanting in nature. The park is home to important ancient Maori settlements first indicated by the carved totems at the reserve’s entrance and working farms raising cows and sheep. (Fun fact: there are 10 sheep per person in New Zealand). Tapapakanga is popular with birdwatchers looking to spot tui, heron, kingfishers and a variety of shags, and with hikers looking to traipse along its many easily walkable trails.
Fun for the Whole Family
The park also features five separate campgrounds and a pohutukawa-lined beach ideal for swimming in the warm South Pacific with a drink in hand. Pohutukawa, an indigenous tree to New Zealand, bursts with bright red billowy and spidery blooms from December through February, an extra touch of awesome to any beach. The beach and water play a vital role in Splore’s mise en scene: kids, friends, and families swim in the ocean while a band plays on stage; the tonier attendees arrive by boat, anchored offshore; and, if you’re tired of the salt water, there’s more wet play to be had in the inland fresh water lagoon.
Like most modern festivals, Splore serves up a mix of live acts (music, theater, and poetry), experiences along designated art trails, and a safe space for celebrating and learning.
Founder Amanda Wright’s vision statement reads in part, “The pristine environment is a platform to educate and inspire our Splore community through the festival kaupapa (ethos, values and beliefs) of contributing to the well-being of our planet by creating transformational experiences. Splore is equal parts liberation and libation; idealism and interactivity; creative showcase and community springboard. A Splore state of mind sets no boundaries sees only possibilities and is at one with nature.”
Circus by the Sea
Splore is a gentle circus on the beach. You might find mermaids swinging from trapezes, roaming theater troupes, stiltwalkers, sailors, painted faces and bodies, trees wrapped in yarn, and live music everywhere. During the day the main musical acts, culled mainly from the UK and New Zealand, play on the big stage, with a stress on funk, hip-hop, Afro beat, and other dance music. As the sun sets and the beach clears, revelers return to their campsites for dinner and transformation as everyone dresses up in fancy costume (think Bestival or Burning Man) and head back out for all-night parties in lounge tents and at DJ sets. To make this work for the many families who attend (and whose kids must sleep), family camping areas are placed at the most remote spots away from the noisemaking. A thoughtful touch indeed.
In addition to live music and vaudevillian & burlesque troupe performances, Splore offers a variety of educational workshops on environmental education, yoga, and craftmaking activities.
But, it is the setting, a tropical beach, that still stands out as the overall influence on what makes Splore a must-attend event. As one previous attendee wrote, “Unlike other festivals, everyone here is always in such a good mood.”