The founders of Splore went to Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert back in the early 90s and decided to create something equally wacky, wondrous and rule-bendy for Kiwis, without the dust.

Twenty years on, this annual festival welcomes everything in: sculpture, light displays, local and international bands, DJs, food trucks, costumes and all forms of artistic expression.

Heading to Splore? Make the most of your roadie and make sure you stop in to see these hot spots on the way from Tauranga to Tapapakanga Regional Park.

1: George Cafe, Tauranga

Food-mad couple, Claire and Luke McCartin will kick start your engine with exceptionally good coffee and locally produced organic food in their retrofitted kiosk that manages to be both pink and inviting. Open from 7.30am weekdays. Vegan options available.


Where: 91 Ocean Beach Rd, Mt Maunganui

2: Owen Dippie Murals in Tauranga

You're going to a big crazy artistic festival so get your head out of work and into big crazy murals and interpretations of famous works of art, from Botticelli and Vermeer to portraits of Johnny Cash, Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein and Biggie.

Where: Tauranga Boys College, Harington Street, Cameron Road and Elizabeth Street

3: German Bakery, Waihi

Some people say this is the best secret about Waihi (although not so secret now). You'll continue to dream about the sourdough, it's that good. Pick up a loaf or sandwiches for the road.

If you're super-organised, do a cheese-making course with Waihi local Jean Mansfield, the week before and make your own ricotta, mozzarella, gouda, feta, halloumi or camembert for the trip.

Where: 54a Seddon St

4: Katikati Naturist Park

You're going to Splore, where you might as well leave your inhibitions at the gate. If you're game, pop into this naturist park and have a quick game of naked petanque or mini golf. It's $15 to use their facilities.

Where: 149 Wharawhara Rd, Katikati

5: Waharau Regional Park

Stop and stretch your limbs on a 30-minute tree fern forest walk by the stream, which is a stunner. Get stuck into that bread. And remember to scrub your feet afterwards to help prevent kauri die-back.

Where: 1748 East Coast Rd, Whakatiwai

6: The Pink Shop, Kaiaua

This place is not legendary but it got nailed in the storm recently so stock up for the festival and help them get back on their feet. They've got drinks, loads of icecreams, Panadol, wet wipes, sunscreen, insect repellent. There's a pirate playground across the road for the young 'uns.

Where: 999 East Coast Rd, Kaiaua

7: Clevedon Co-op

The last stop before Splore should be called Lord Of The Pies. Clevedon locals and Splore-goers gobble up their outstanding pies and pastries.

Where: 31 Papakura-Clevedon Rd

8: Quick swim on the way home

On the way home don't forget to jump off the dock at Waitawa Park Bay or have a soak further down at Miranda Hot Springs.

Where: Waitawa Park Bay: 1168 Clevedon-Kawakawa Rd, Kawakawa Bay. Miranda Hot Springs: Front Miranda Rd, RD 6, Thames

Splore is on February 23-25 at Tapapakanga Regional Park.