The smell of sunscreen and plastic inflatables filled Tikitapu on Saturday as more than 4000 people flocked the lakeside for the ZM Float festival.

It was the second time the festival had been held in Rotorua which brought a day of colourful inflatables and a pool-party atmosphere for the thousands that attended.

Buses ran back and forth from Puarenga Park all day and 10 buses took four or five bus-loads each.

The water was full of people lazing on inflatable flamingos, unicorns, pineapples and pizza slices.


After Jupiter Project graced the stage at 1.40pm the duo told the Rotorua Daily Post that performing in one of the most beautiful places in the North Island and seeing the happiness on people's faces was what a New Zealand summer was about.

Jupiter Project fresh off-stage after a hot performance. Photo / Andrew Warner.
Jupiter Project fresh off-stage after a hot performance. Photo / Andrew Warner.

It was the third time the duo had performed at the festival and Marty Rich said it was amazing to witness the festival expand.

"Each year just gets better and now we have two stages, it's just amazing."

Part of the musical collaboration, Gavin Correia said there was something magical about performing at Tikitapu and it was awesome to play with bands they admired.

There was no hope the sun would fade away as temperatures soared past 28C and many attendees were happy they could seek refuge in the water and on the "Bomb Tower".

Festival-goers rushed to the stage to witness a fleeting performance of The Hot Mess Express, a DJ duo comprised of ZM radio hosts Bree and Clint.

Inflatable balls bounced through the crowd while they performed a "Rotorua special" of Poi E.

Rising band Drax Project came on and crowds flooded around the stage, leaving floaties deserted, to witness the band of four perform their chart-topping singles.

Drax Project lead singer Shaan Singh performing to crowds. Photo / Andrew Warner.
Drax Project lead singer Shaan Singh performing to crowds. Photo / Andrew Warner.

Backstage, Balu Brigada were catching some sun while soaking in the tunes of a band they were stoked to see.

Lead guitarist and vocals of the band Henry Beasley said it was cool to be playing at a festival with other good New Zealand artists.

"It is kind of the perfect summer vibe for it so I am looking forward to playing."

The band had never played in Rotorua before and were excited to play at a unique event.

He said he hoped to play again in Rotorua after they released their new album in May.

"This is our first show back after being in New York for the past nine months so it's cool to catch the last of a New Zealand summer."

Girls dressed in their bikinis were already waiting at the gate when ZM content director Ross Flahive arrived at 8am.

He said ticket sales had risen to 4300 which he was happy with.

"Especially because a lot of locals have come but so many people have road-tripped down and we have had a lot of people just hop in the car this morning and decided they wanted to come.

"We have had a really good crowd, everyone is in good spirits."

Flahive said eliminating the boats from last year had made it a smoother day and everyone was respecting the non-alcohol, smoking and vaping event.

He said there had been no reports of issues and police were happy and enjoying the event themselves.

"There are 15 lifeguards we have on rotate throughout the day. Logistically it is hard, but it is what we had to do to make sure everyone had a good time and gets home safe.

"That's our biggest priority."

Flahive thought the setting of Tikitapu was perfect for the festival and hopes it carries on here for years to come.

"I think this is the best lake to do it in New Zealand. The fact that you can essentially lock it down for the day is just awesome.

"And thank God the weather is as good as it is today."

Event director Lucy Wymer said the organising team "had an awesome time".

"The weather was perfect, there was a really good vibe from the crowd. Everybody had a lot of fun."

Senior Sergeant Bill Fisher said the crowds were well behaved.

"There were a couple of people who came to police attention for breaching the liquor ban, and there were two arrests, one for sustained loss of traction and the other person had a warrant out for their arrest. Otherwise, it was a pretty good event."

A St John spokeswoman said nobody needed transporting from the festival to hospital for any reason.