Wānaka summer concert plans revealed

Rhythm & Alps in 2023. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Rhythm & Alps in 2023. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The organisers behind the popular Rhythm & Alps music festival have revealed plans for a summer concert in Wānaka they believe could attract upwards of 20,000 people to the town.

Rhythm & Alps general manager Harry Gorringe said the single-day event was still in the planning stages, but would likely target an older demographic than their New Year’s festival in the Cardrona Valley, which is mostly attended by people in the 18-35 age range.

They were searching for international artists who would appeal to the "40-plus market", he said.

"We’ve been discussing with a variety of agents worldwide ... but if you imagine in the sphere of a Dolly Parton — something like that."

An early outline of the plans was discussed during the public forum section of the Wānaka-Upper Clutha Community Board’s meeting in Hāwea yesterday, as Mr Gorringe and Rhythm & Alps founder and director Alex Turnbull revealed their intentions to apply for consent to hold the concert on Queenstown Lakes District Council land.

Subject to council approval, the organisers have their sights set on a sports field at Wānaka’s Three Parks shopping district, situated between the Wānaka Recreation Centre and New World.

While no specific timing or year for the concert was mentioned, Mr Gorringe said their intention was for it to take place between late January and March.

Depending on the outcome of a resource consent application, they could expect the event to have a capacity of between 10,000 and 20,000 people, he said.

The three-day Rhythm & Alps music festival attracts more than 10,000 people to the Cardrona Valley each year.

When asked whether the event was intended to be a one-off, Mr Gorringe said they were open to it becoming a regular fixture in their calendar.

"We’ll test the viability and then go from there."

Members of the community board were largely receptive to the plans, but questioned how organisers would manage such large numbers of people travelling to and from the event.

Mr Turnbull said they would look at providing a shuttle bus service from Pembroke Park similar to their offering for R&A, while the site’s proximity to the town centre and nearby open spaces would allow many to drive or walk.

Those travelling from out of town could be managed via park and ride set-ups on the main arterial routes to prevent congestion in Wānaka’s town centre, he said.

Board chairman Simon Telfer said while there were certainly benefits to be had from hosting such a large, accessible event in Wānaka, the organisers also needed to recognise the "cost to the community".

"There is disruption, there is, whether we like it or not, there’s rubbish, there’s vandalism, there’s challenges. It has a big impact on town and I really encourage you to continue to put front and centre that social licence and what does this mean for the community."

Mr Turnbull said they would take the board’s feedback into consideration before pursuing the next steps with the QLDC’s events team.