Mitch Lowe has an interesting word to describe his flourishing music festival. He calls it "a beast".

"There's no limit to where this could go," he says on the phone to TimeOut from his new home in Tauranga.

"We think this could be the Coachella of New Zealand one day. That's my dream."

He's talking about Bay Dreams, his and co-organiser Pato Alvarez's event that's bucked industry trends and grown so fast it's become the country's biggest music festival in just two years.

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Paris Guglielmoni enjoys the Bay Dreams music festival earlier this year. Photo/George Novak
Paris Guglielmoni enjoys the Bay Dreams music festival earlier this year. Photo/George Novak

Launched in 2016, Bay Dreams began as a one-day, post-New Year's option for holidaymakers looking for something to do after their hangovers wore off.

Based in Tauranga, the first event attracted 6000 people for a line-up of mostly local hip-hop and electronica.

But it was this year's festival featuring three headliners - Yelawolf, Sticky Fingers and Shapeshifter - that saw Bay Dreams "turn into such a beast so fast".

Originally capped at 12,000, the festival expanded to 15,000 and then 18,000 as demand grew and tickets kept selling out.

"It obviously took us by surprise ... we had to expand the capacity," says Lowe. "We pulled it off in the end and there were a lot of happy people."

Mitch Lowe, co-promoter for Bay Dreams music festival in Tauranga, says the festival can become New Zealand's version of Coachella.
Mitch Lowe, co-promoter for Bay Dreams music festival in Tauranga, says the festival can become New Zealand's version of Coachella.

That's in an industry in which many summer music festivals are struggling. Auckland City Limits and Raggamuffin were both called off this year, as was Auckland's Echo Festival and Westfest in 2016, and Soulfest in 2015. However, New Year's festivals like Rhythm & Vines and Northern Bass are still going strong.

"On paper, it doesn't seem like it should work," admits Lowe. He cites their strong relationships with artists, a booming post-New Year's festival scene in Australia, and scoring "the right line-up" as factors contributing to Bay Dreams' success.

But Lowe isn't interested in simply maintaining an audience - he wants to grow it. He's predicting 22,000 people - possibly more - will pack into Tauranga's Baypark Stadium on January 2.

They'll be showing up to see acts such as DJ Snake, Pendulum and Foster The People, as well as hip-hop acts $uicideboy$, Flatbush Zombies and Home Brew, announced in this week's first line-up release.

Lowe promises the second announcement in late August will be "as big as the first" and will include another "monster headliner".

Fans enjoy the Bay Dreams music festival in Tauranga earlier this year. Photo/George Novak
Fans enjoy the Bay Dreams music festival in Tauranga earlier this year. Photo/George Novak

The festival's massive growth rate has "changed everything" for Lowe.

The full-time promoter has moved to Tauranga after five years in Sydney, has hired fulltime staff, rented an office, and bought a house.

"Everything made sense to be here and really focus on Bay Dreams," he says. "It was good, but we've got more hands on deck to make sure it's world class."

That means on-site improvements and a main stage move to help ease bottlenecks, improved camping options, and better traffic and parking management around the site.

He and Alvarez are focused on creating a festival that is "respected internationally", one that attracts "not just Kiwis but people from overseas too".

Pato Alvarez, co-promoter for Bay Dreams music festival in Tauranga.
Pato Alvarez, co-promoter for Bay Dreams music festival in Tauranga.

But there's one thing Lowe and Alvarez can't control, and that's Tauranga's dodgy summer weather. It's affected both Bay Dreams festivals so far.

"We have to have a perfect day this time," he says. "I don't want to jinx it, but I think we honestly deserve it."

LOWDOWN
Who: Festival promoter Mitch Lowe
What: Bay Dreams
Where and when: January 2, Tauranga's Baypark Stadium
Featuring: DJ Snake, Pendulum, Foster The People, $uicideboy$, Flatbush Zombies, Ocean Alley, Home Brew, Classixx and more.
More info: www.baydreams.co.nz