A fire-breathing stage stole the show as the three-day Rhythm and Vines music festival kicked off last night.

About 17,000 people attended the opening night.

They were wowed by the Arcadia Afterburner stage, which travelled to Gisborne from Bristol in the UK.

"It's something New Zealand has never seen before," said Rhythm Group sales director Torben Landl.


Launched in Glastonbury in 2008, the stage has visited festivals such as T in the Park and Electric Picnic.

Made almost entirely of recycled parts, the impressive stage comes to life at night when fire and smoke explode from it, and strobes and beams dance in time to the music.

"It is a 360-degree experience. It is made so people can get up there and dance," said Arcadia building operations manager Andy Parrini.

"It is a totally different experience....I think every festival needs something like that... but they don't know until they get it."

Mr Parrini, along with the rest of the Arcadia crew, travelled from England to set up the stage. After visiting some of the biggest festivals in the world, they say they have been amazed by R&V's beautiful surrounds.

"The site is amazing. We've never done anything on a site like this before," he says.

The Afterburner fired up as night set in, and hordes of revellers danced in time to DJs including Kamandi, Mr Carmack and Grandtheft.

"The crowd were amazing, everyone partied hard. They had a great time and everyone was really well behaved," said Mr Parrini.

Elsewhere at Waiohika, things ran smoothly.

Police and St John Ambulance are happy with the way the first night of R&V went, especially with the behaviour.

Five were taken to hospital by ambulance last night.

"Mainly it was as a result of injuries in falls at the festival site," said St John territory manager Shane Clapperton.

"Our staff saw nothing out of the ordinary last night and no abnormally high level of intoxication."

Mr Clapperton said some of the processes the R&V organisers put in place to reduce intoxication levels were working.

"There is more hydration available and there are water containers everywhere for the festival-goers to refill containers from, which is a good thing."

After three days of BW and now R&V, St John staff are happy so far.

"We hope it stays this way."

Police likewise are happy with how the first night of R&V went.

"The behaviour overall was very good," a police spokeswoman said.

"There were a few arrests out there last night but nothing of a serious nature.

"Once again there were high levels of intoxication, especially at BW," she said.

"There were some problems with loading the BW campers on to the buses for the ride out to R&V.

"That's something the BW organisers will need to look at for tonight."

Mr Landl was pleased with how the night went.

"The artists were great and everyone was having a good time."

Rhythm and Wed saw Kathi Aeshbach and Hannah Frohnapfel tie the knot in a not-so-official ceremony officiated by R&V crew member Gabriele Brazzon.

It was a short engagement. The au pairs from Germany have known each other for just four weeks but decided to solidify their friendship with a non-legally-binding wedding.

"It's hilarious, I love it," said Hannah, who danced around the hill in a Rhythm-provided wedding dress in celebration of the nuptials.

Revellers wandered the estate and made their way between four stages that hosted a variety of local and international acts.

They were able to track their experience using My Festival Story, which creates an interactive digital snapshot of people's festival journey.

Australian psychedelic dance band Jagwar Ma was an early act, taking the stage after a slight delay and entertained audiences with their unique sound that fuses dance and guitar music.

American rapper Danny Brown kept the audience pumping, before crowd favourite Netsky took the stage at midnight and kept revellers dancing until the early hours of the morning.

The Jagermeister stage saw acts such as Lakes and Dick Johnson, while Mike Ross, Chores, LMC and Terace played the Cellar stage.