After an arduous journey, (emotional goodbyes, a delayed flight to Christchurch, a free bus ride to the city as I had no change, Shanelle and Greg saving the day by getting my bike to the bus and an overnight coach ride) I arrived back in sunny Wanaka at 6am.
Breakfast eaten, camping gear and food bought, tickets printed and it was still early. I watched the crowds flood into Wanaka, this is the place where New Years goes off. I caught a lift to the festival with another volunteer mid afternoon. In the sun, in the Cardrona valley, Vollywood became the first little pitch of tents in a field which would soon be filled with life.
Over the course of the festival, the atmosphere was so relaxed and friendly you felt you could sit and chat with anyone at any time, and we did. Whether it was sharing a bench by a food stall, a drink in camp or a dance at the stage, everyone was a friend you hadn’t met yet.
There was the festival standards; despite being three days of music you barely see an act in full, you lose everyone and find yourself with another group, communal showering and not being able to lie in for risk of cooking in your tent. Then there was the Rhythm and Alps specials like being able to spend the day sunbathing by the river which gently skirted the site, the string of lights which illuminated the gorgeous valley setting and endless games of Uno with ‘extreme’ new rules.
Carl Cox welcomed in 2016 and it was great to realise I ended 2015 the way I started it; sleeping in a field, at a festival, with people I hadn’t known longer than 72 hours but with who I would share great memories and be long time friends.
We had to do 14 hours to earn our ticket and during the evenings of the 29th and 30th I patrolled the camp helping people set up tents, playing frisbee and checking wristbands. My final shift was on the 1st, demolishing tents, clearing litter and scavenging abandoned treasure around the site (I replaced my tent pegs and got a frisbee and water pistol.) With the site empty and clean, we relaxed in the cool of the shade by the river. The staff put on a BBQ and out came all the confiscated alcohol which was attempted to be smuggled in to the festival. The evening was warm and we sat for hours playing games and cards. Officially off duty, the fire truck became a moving speaker with people dancing and sunbathing on top, occasionally spraying everyone with the fire hose. Everyone relaxed now the festival had been a success.
And just like that, another chapter sadly ended, as I headed for Cromwell for cherry picking.