Three-hour wait for motorists exiting Auckland's festival

Festival goers celebrating Holi at the Hare Krishna Centre in Riverhead. Photo: NZ Herald
Festival goers celebrating Holi at the Hare Krishna Centre in Riverhead. Photo: NZ Herald
Thousands of people attempting to leave the Krishna Holi Festival in the Auckland town of Kumeū have encountered a "ridiculous" logjam of traffic at the exit roads - with motorists waiting more than three hours.

The annual event at the Hare Krishna grounds at 1229 Coatsville-Riverhead Highway is a celebration of Holi, a popular Hindu festival known as the festival of colours.

The event started at noon and ended at 4pm and participants got to indulge in the ritual of smearing each other with bright colours.

However, 90 minutes after the festival ended, hundreds of cars were still stuck in the event grounds.

"We spent 90 minutes at the festival with the kids and nearly twice that trying to leave and still aren’t even close to the exit," one participant said.

"Lots of hot tired people getting grumpy."

Another said: "Ridiculous traffic leaving Krishna Holi Festival, coming up three hours [and still] trying to leave now."

Many of those in the cars were also covered in brightly coloured powder, made from corn starch.

The venue is a 30-minute drive from Auckland Central and organisers had encouraged festival-goers to drive to the venue.

Cars waited up to three hours to leave the Krishna Holi festival in Kumeū. Photo: NZ Herald
Cars waited up to three hours to leave the Krishna Holi festival in Kumeū. Photo: NZ Herald
"Please note that public transport to the venue is limited. You’ve been warned," the organisers said on their website.

"Yes, we have free parking at the festival on a first-come-first-served basis. We have a lot of parking space, but if you arrive too late for on-site parking, then please park safely (ie not on the main highway) on the side roads and walk to the site."

The Herald has approached the festival organisers for comments.

They had also asked that any questions on the event be sent at least a week before the event, as the organisers could "be crazy busy and likely a bit grumpy".

Although the colours are non-toxic, they said there had been a handful of people needing their eyes washed out by St John’s ambulance.

"Please be mindful that it is a large event with thousands of people," they said.

The event is run and supported by a registered charity, volunteers, donors and sponsors.

"This is the real deal Holi and not a for-profit ‘Holi-inspired’ event with commercial motives," they said.

"We have introduced a few innovations such as the colour throws and dance music, but remain loyal to the cultural and spiritual roots of the celebration."