Crowds flock to Nelson for Bay Dreams South festival

10:55 am on 4 January 2019

A large-scale music festival staged in Nelson today is a trial run for an even bigger event in 2025, says the mayor of Nelson.

One of two temporary campsites set up next to the venue at Trafalgar Park.

One of two temporary campsites set up next to the venue at Trafalgar Park. Photo: RNZ/Tracy Neal

Up to 17,000 people have arrived in the city for today's sell-out Bay Dreams South Festival - the first time it has been held in the South Island.

Promoters confirmed earlier this year that Bay Dreams, which has been held in the Bay of Plenty for the last three years, was getting a sister festival in Nelson.

All 20,000 tickets to today's event sold out within weeks.

Mayor Rachel Reese said it was the biggest event Nelson had ever staged, surpassing the All Blacks test match at Trafalgar Park last September.

She said it was preparation for the national Māori performing arts festival, Te Matatini, which Nelson would host in 2025.

Ms Reese says the council has worked with the Bay Dreams organisers to ensure all bases are covered for today's event.

"We've prepared like we do for any major event - planned and unplanned. Sometimes events are positive and sometimes they're negative but we're well prepared.

"All signs are great we've controlled every controllable there is, and I just hope everyone has a fantastic time in this amazing city, Nelson/Whakatu."

The influx of visitors were warned by the city council earlier not to risk freedom camping in areas where it was banned.

Concertgoers queuing up at Trafalgar Park.

Concertgoers queuing up at Trafalgar Park. Photo: RNZ/Tracy Neal

The council has made available two large sports grounds for the event organisers to set up temporary campsites

Ticket-holders were able to book a tent site for $99 over two nights at either Rutherford Park near the concert venue at Trafalgar Park, or Saxton Field 11km away.

The two sites combined accommodate 4600 people.

Keegan Jones and Gary Walker from the Bay of Islands are among the thousands in Nelson for the festival.

Mr Jones said they were lucky to have friends to stay with as there was no accommodation available.

"Driving into Nelson the campsites are absolutely packed, I mean, me and my friend here - he's fortunate enough that he knows me, so he knows he has some accommodation, but other than that it's going to be fantastic."

Nelson City councillor Bill Dahlberg said top level security would ensure the welfare of concertgoers.

Police in Nelson were not saying if extra staff had been brought in.

The Nelson Bays area commander said police did not disclose security plans or police numbers for this type of event.

The Bay Dreams organisers are responsible for security at the event, but there will be a visible police presence in and around the venue.

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