Concerts by big-name bands are set to become an annual event at the vineyard near Kerikeri which is hosting British reggae act UB40 tonight.
All 5000 tickets to the show, at Kainui Rd Vineyard off State Highway 10, have sold out. The support acts will be Herbs, whose links with UB40 go back to the band's first tour of New Zealand in 1980, and former Opshop frontman Jason Kerrison.
The concert will take place among the vines in a natural amphitheatre. Yesterday workers were busy erecting half a kilometre of fencing, installing more than 40 portaloos and assembling one tonne of speakers on two 12m towers.
Alan Thompson, who owns the vineyard with his wife Helen, said they had built a permanent stage and had a consent for one big concert every year.
Another well-known band was already being lined up for 2017.
"It's been a bit of an undertaking to get it to this stage, but if all goes well hopefully we can do plenty more in the future," he said.
Traffic management was likely to be the main issue on the night as cars arrived and left from SH10. Two parking areas, on the couple's own property and in a neighbour's paddocks, had been set up. Kainui Rd's own wine and craft beer, plus 15 stalls selling food from local growers and restaurants, will keep concert-goers sated.
Mr Thompson was hoping for good weather "but there'll be that many people down there they'll stay warm whatever happens," he said.
The couple have lived in Kerikeri for 30 years and started developing the vineyard in 2008. Their son-in-law added craft beer to their range of wines last year.
Kainui Rd's first concert, by Australian diva Renee Geyer, was in 2014. The vineyard hosts regular Sunday sessions with the next one, on February 7, featuring a blues singer.
News that major concerts will be held annually at Kainui Rd follows the announcement earlier this week that big gigs will return every summer to Whangarei after the success of Saturday night's concert at Toll Stadium, when more than 4000 people turned out to see Six60 despite poor weather.
UB40's Kerikeri show was a late add-on to the band's Red Red Wine Vineyard Tour which also stops in Hawke's Bay, Rotorua, New Plymouth, North Canterbury and Auckland.
The line-up performing tonight is based around original frontman Ali Campbell, who quit the band in 2008 but reunited with Mickey Virtue and Astro in 2013. Their best-known songs include Red Red Wine, Cherry Oh Baby, Kingston Town, (I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You, their cover of I Got You Babe, and Rat in Mi Kitchen. The name UB40 refers to an unemployment benefit application form.
Another version of UB40 - that also includes some original members, including Campbell's brother Robin - is also touring NZ this summer.
* Glenys Bucknell, from Whangarei, won two VIP passes for tonight's show and a Kainui Rd prize pack in the Northern Advocate's UB40 competition.