Vibes in the Vines
Updated: May 26
By Jessy Thurston
The Rhythm and Vines experience is a wild gathering of classic kiwi love. There’s a unique power in 20,000 people sharing multiple nights of parties and a mass hangover together! I went to RNV for the first time last year and I wish I had done it sooner.There are a few tips I picked up on, which might prepare any new ravers for the madness that ensues once you start your road to rhythm.
The Road to Rhythm
First of all, if you are travelling from Auckland you should try to split the journey to Gisbourne in two. I highly recommend doing this so you and your clan manage to stay hyped, instead of being drained from 6 hours cramped in a car after waking up at ungodly hours to make it there before the gates open. I was the only one with a full license last year, so taking a break to explore Papamoa beach, wind down, and get some sleep in between the drives was a must. Also, make sure you create a playlist or two for the drive. There is nothing worse than having people fight over the aux or reconnecting to the bluetooth in between song choices.
Rhythm and Lines
Once you arrive at the vines there’s a full car search, and then you’ll have to lug all your stuff up to the entrance and wait for everyone to have their bags thoroughly checked. Do not make the mistake of taking two trips to get all of your stuff in. The lines don’t get any shorter, so make sure you drag all your gear that you’ll need for the first night with you to avoid waiting any longer than needed. I would say the day one lines are one of the worst things you’ll encounter at the festival. The bag check is pretty thorough, so if you’re thinking of sneaking things in, you’ll have to get super creative. For the gals, try using an old push up bra and hollowing out the foam to wear on the day to stash your essentials in. For the guys, I’ve heard putting small things inside your shoes or even loading your undies with the goods is most successful. Remember, everything is legal if you don’t get caught!
I purchased VIP tickets for the festival,purely because I heard how horrible the porta-loos get and how nice it is to have real, flushing toilets. This was a solid game changer in the RNV experience. The lines for the porta-loos near the stages were seriously long every night, and the one time I got stuck and had to use one, it was not pleasant...enough said. If you can afford it, get a VIP ticket! You’ll also get a powder room with mirrors and straighteners, a conveniently placed camping site near the food trucks and entrance, a coffee cart that doesn’t get absolutely swamped in the mornings, a sheltered relaxing area, and a VIP bar right next to the main stage. If you get in quick and book super early, you could also rent out an Airbnb for the festival. Splitting the price between a group would make the cost bearable and you’d only have to buy day passes to the festival instead of camping. This means you’ll have your own space to pre and avoid all the hassles with porta-loos and shower lines at the festival!
Just be mindful of having to walk all the way out to the bus stop to get home every night, and make sure your fanny packs are filled with everything you’ll need. Top tip for ravers though - things like gum and sunscreen are available on site if you ever find yourself in desperate times.
Suss out the Spots
On the first night, scope out the entire place and explore everything available to you while there are no huge acts playing. Get a sense for the whole place, there are so many hidden gems scattered across the venue. It will be handy to know exactly where to get your hands on those reasonably-priced dumplings when you’re in need of a feed after going all out in the mosh during a set on night two.
Tips for coming back from the dead
During the days, most people head into town and it’s hard to find somewhere to eat that isn’t packed with lines of RNV goers. It's kind of amazing that you can walk through the hub of a small town and 90% of the people you see are all from the festival! We found it was best to avoid places like Maccas and aimed for bakeries, kebabs, roast shops and more lowkey spots when going out to eat. We tried one morning to find a nice café and get a good brunch in, and even the one with the shortest line had a wait time of an hour and a half for food. The beach was packed everyday too, so we used snapmaps to try and find other places to go and chill before heading back to the vines. We managed to find a reserve near the lake one day, and we laid down a towel and some blankets and all took a nap since we were the only ones there. Naps are a great idea to get you refreshed for the night ahead, but trying to do it back
at the campsite was too hard. The tents become oven boxes in the sun and it gets too hot to stay inside for longer than a couple minutes.
Rhythm Love and the Magic of the Mosh
Once you get back to the festival after exploring the Gisbourne community, the experience really starts to pick up. The nights are when you really start to see the festival come to life. Rave mothers and fathers come out from the depths of the vines in the hundreds. It’s organised chaos in the best way. You end up bumping into people that you forgot you knew at some point of your life, and making unlikely friends who will probably end up chucking you on their shoulders at some point.
Trying to capture the essence of the festival in words is incomparable to the euphoria of standing in the mosh, watching the crowds dripping in glitter and throwing their heads back in bliss. Whether you’re a front-of-the-railing or a sit-on-the-hill kind of festival goer, the energy that fills the Waiohika Estate is contagious over those four nights. Many of the artists jump on stage and share the love for all of the Kiwi ravers looking back up at them. It was rare to go to a set that didn’t end with a heartfelt “We love coming to Rhythm and Vines and seeing all of you beautiful New Zealanders here!” It’s not just the music that makes the festival what it is either. It's the people, the security in knowing everyone is there to have a good time, and the energy that pours over the entire place no matter which corner of the festival you find yourself in.
At its core, RNV is a festival of heart. It’s showered in love and classic Kiwi connectedness over celebrating music, looking out for each other, and spreading good vibes and transcendence as you enter the new year in the best way you can.