Summer music festival-goers are claiming victory as Gisborne's big camping event has done an about-turn on allowing alcohol on to the site.

There was an online uproar when BW Summer Festival ticket-holders early this month learned the campground operators had applied for a special licence and would sell alcohol on-site at bars overseen by liquor store owner Marty van der Velde.

They cited responsible alcohol management as the reason.

That meant up to 10,000 campers expected this year would not have been able to take their own.


Thousands of commentators expressed their disappointment, some accusing BW operators of price-gouging, while others said they would spend their summers elsewhere rather than heading to Gisborne for the annual New Year's BW and Rhythm and Vines (R&V) events.

More than 5000 signed a petition organised by Auckland engineering student Cameron Clarke, who demanded BW managers either revoke the special licence, refund ticketholders or sell alcohol at supermarket prices.

BW co-founder Toby Burrows says the decision to revert back to BYO (bring your own) status was a response to the "massive" amount of feedback received from those planning to attend.

BYO is allowed at other campsites across New Zealand and BW campers didn't like "their freedom around products and pricing was to be taken away from them", says Mr Burrows.

"We felt very strongly about the negative impact this change was having and would continue to have on the sustainability of both the BW and R&V events in Gisborne," he says.

"So we launched a review on the change, which led us to the decision to return to a 'limited BYO' policy in all the campgrounds."

There are restrictions - such as a ban on spirits or RTDs (premixed drinks) with an alcohol content of more than 7 per cent - added to existing conditions such as "no gross intoxication" and no "inappropriate drinking apparatus".

"One of the main issues we are faced with producing large events is the bad behaviour of a minority. This is the same in any society, whereby a select few attempt to ruin things for everyone," says Mr Burrows.


"By and large, our events have run for more than a decade without major incident and we are very proud of this.

"However, some behaviour issues reared their heads at BW over the past couple of years - particularly on December 31 - and these are a serious concern."

Introducing on-site bars through the use of a special liquor licence was just one of the tools the BW team had to manage behaviour problems, says Mr Burrows.

"We have many more tools in the box and are confident these will be enough to deliver the events safely," he says.

"The sustainability of the events relies on them being delivered safely, so the health and safety of all our events is always at the forefront of our planning."

News of the turn-around has been welcomed by BW punters, who thanked organisers for listening to their concerns.


"Wise move BW... you've saved our New Year," said one.