Waikato is in the mood for summer and the list of festivals in the region is growing fast with That Weekend festival at Okoroire Hot Springs just announced.
The South Waikato festival, just out of Tirau, will be celebrating its second year running from January 29 until 30 and features a line-up of local acts including The Black Seeds, Pixie Lane, Leisure and Summer Thieves, and its first international act: Belgium artist, Netsky.
After the inaugural festival called The Longline Classic held in Gisborne in 2020 was a huge success, festival operators Nexgen Touring co-founders Kurt Barker and James Bristow were approached by South Waikato local and Rhythm and Vines director, Andrew Witters, who told them about the new location.
Says Kurt: "The venue in South Waikato worked really well, it was such a cool place, we had uncovered a hidden gem, it was perfect and it aligned well with our market. After [we discovered] a huge market of ticket buyers from The Longline Classic were from the central North Island, South Waikato was the perfect fit".
That Weekend's location at the Okoroire Hot Springs Hotel means festival attendees will have access to all hotel facilities, including hot showers, the restaurant, pub, tennis courts as well as the famous natural hot spring and a 9-hole golf course.
Kurt says the South Waikato is the ideal location in terms of its proximity to Auckland, Tauranga and the Coromandel. "[This makes] it easy for people to access during the summer period."
South Waikato District Council is supportive of That Weekend being held in the area. The council's marketing officer Anton Sudano says That Weekend wasn't the only festival to come to the region with another festival, Electric Timber, held there in February.
He says: "Demand is high for holding festivals in the South Waikato region at the moment and it's exciting. We are a central location with incredible outdoor venues that have not been seen before, we are very supportive of these events."
The festival organisers fell in love with music in Dunedin where they completed their tertiary studies and secured jobs in festival promotion. After gaining experience working on some of New Zealand's largest festivals like Bay Dreams, One Love and Soundsplash, Kurt and James found their passion for the industry.
With Covid-19 around, Kurt says it has been an anxious journey to be an event organiser. "We just watch every announcement like everyone else and hope for the best, it is already risky putting on events as it is, so this heightens it."
Nexgen Touring's first festival The Longline Classic in 2020 was one of the first festivals since the first lockdown. "It actually worked in our favour as we got the Covid relief payment right before restrictions eased and we had everything sussed. It managed to sell out in a couple of weeks so it gave us a platform to do more."
The Longline Classic 2021 had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, but with the recent drop to alert level 2 and high vaccination rates in the Waikato, That Weekend is in a hopeful position to go ahead.
For more information visit the festival website here.