Weary but satisfied Gatherers head home
Four days of non-stop partying in Upper Takaka is over and 13,000 dance-weary Gatherers are heading for home.
The satisfied revellers drove, bussed and walked away from the festival yesterday and this morning with memories of breathtaking light shows, spectacular scenery and mindblowing music.
A distinguising feature of the party was its peaceful and friendly atmosphere, mostly due to the event's alcohol-free policy.
Event organiser Murray Kingi said the exceptionally well-organised and largely trouble-free festival was the best of the five Gathering parties.
Gatherers leaving the site at the bottom of Takaka Hill described the event as "awesome", "unforgettable" and "intense".
Brad Windust, 22, of Dargaville, walked sleepily away from the campsite this morning vowing to return.
"I can't even describe it, it was primo."
Another happy partygoer said the festival, with its 70 stalls, seven musical zones and other colourful attractions, was "a big person's playground".
Punters loved the rave's stunning location, relaxed and safe atmosphere and technical wizardry.
One of the few gripes was about the 2.5km walk between the campground and the main dance zones further up the Cobb Valley Rd site.
The Gathering was surprisingly incident-free considering its size.
About a trailer-load of alcohol was confiscated from Gatherers and some people were caught trying to sneak in via rivers and back entrances to the site.
Several partygoers were treated for minor hypothermia, cuts, bruises and injured ankles. There were at least three reported incidents of people losing control after bad drug experiences. There were no reports of violence aside from one man who was quickly evicted by police.
Mr Kingi said he was still considering moving the Gathering to the North Island despite an exceptional reaction from particpants who told him they loved the new site and didn't want it to change again.
Mr Kingi praised the Gathering's 150 vigilant security officers, who were a constant yet unobtrusive presence at the party, and 1500 other staff and volunteers for their dedictaion and efficiency.
He also thanked the Harwood family, who leased the farmland site to the Gathering, and medical and counselling staff.
There were no traffic problems yesterday or this morning as the thousands of Gatherers left.