Christina Teikamata says that had it not been for a Good Samaritan offer, she and her four children would be sitting at home trying to enjoy what's left of their summer holiday.

Instead, the 39-year-old solo mother from Pakuranga in Auckland was yesterday among the throngs of people at the Mystery Creek Events Centre for the Parachute Festival.

About 20,000 people have enjoyed the dozens of bands on four stages, carnival rides, food stalls and other attractions at the drug-and alcohol-free event, now in its 22nd year.

Ms Teikamata said she had wanted to take her children on holiday but could not afford the $460 Parachute promoters were originally asking for the four-day event that ends today.


But when organisers offered a pay-what-you-can-afford promotion, the fulltime postgraduate student and a bunch of friends jumped at the chance.

"The last year's been tough, we really wanted to go camping but we couldn't," said Ms Teikamata. "So we couldn't believe this opportunity, it's like someone is paying for us and we are so thankful."

By yesterday more than 1000 families had snapped up the offer, paying from $1 to $250.

Ms Teikamata, who is studying psychology at Massey University, paid $6 for herself and her children, borrowed a friend's three-bedroom tent and set off with eight other single mothers from her church in Botany to set up camp with thousands of others.

"It's just so safe and relaxed. I've been to other places where there's adults and alcohol and a lot of swearing but there's none of that here. My oldest daughter was out until 2.30 this morning enjoying the bands and the fun, I mean where would you let your kids do something like that ?"

Parachute spokesman Luke Oram said the pay-what-you-can-afford approach had worked and would continue next year although the number of tickets would be limited.

"The conventional approach would have been to go for discounted tickets but the money is not there for families because it has been such a tough year for people, with Christchurch and the global financial crisis," he said.

"At the end of the day it's more important to have these people here than to have them pay full price and this is more a social equity thing for us than anything."

He said attendance numbers had topped 20,000 - down slightly on previous years but pleasing after organisers had worried about an oversaturated market.

Some concertgoers volunteered their services in lieu of payment.

Senior Sergeant Ray Malcolmson said police had made no arrests after three days.

"It's just a really neat, family-type of atmosphere ... and people are looking out for each other."

In Rotorua, more than 20,000 reggae fans attended the fifth Raggamuffin festival.additional reporting: APNZ