Soundsplash festival chaos: Up to 8000 teens endure massive queues in hot sun

Thousands of underage teens at Soundsplash music festival have been waiting for up to seven hours in the hot sun in Raglan Airfield for buses which many then threw up on after pre-drinking.

Parents of the teenage festival-goers are irate at what they have labelled a logistical disaster, saying only a handful of shuttle buses were available to transport up to 8000 kids the final 4km to the concert grounds.

The festival organisers have apologised, saying stringent checking for illicit substances was responsible for the delays.

Soundsplash drop off… stupidly long queues for tickets and bag checks… but the traffic management systems were great…loving the music in town – Slave on the decks. Yay!

The Raglan Airfield had been set up as a site to drop off patrons at the festival, to get their entry wristbands and have their bags searched for alcohol and harmful substances.

Video from the site shows the massive queue of young people awaiting their search and eventual entry.

Melanie Homer dropped off her 17-year-old son Finn Pilcher at the airfield a 11:45am and received a text from him at 3:45pm saying they had finally boarded a bus.

“I dropped my son and his three friends off and there were massive queues,” Homer said.

“So yeah, huge waiting times in the sun. It was pretty intense and just a lot of kids.

“He had a bottle of water but he would have gone well through that.

“I thought surely they must have it under control because it’s not the first time they’ve run this [but] it’s really slow. To wait for that long… that was at midday, so there were heaps of kids still arriving, like tons and tons.”

Soundsplash Festival organiser Brian Ruawai said they were aware of the long wait times some people experienced entering the festival and “sincerely apologise for the inconvenience and discomfort this may have caused”.

Ruawai said they had been given information that other summer festivals had encountered significant amounts of the harmful substances among patrons “known to be circulating in the country at the moment”.

“As festival organisers, we have a responsibility to keep our young people safe and our searching processes are more rigorous this year for this very reason,” Ruawai said.

“That has meant that our entry processing this year took longer. While we acknowledge that the excessive wait times experienced by some were unacceptable, we would like to reiterate that our primary priority is the duty of care we provide to our festival attendees. Because we are an all ages festival, the safety of all of our attendees is paramount.”

But one festival-goer said the experience once they boarded the shuttle buses was almost as unpleasant as the several hours wait at the airfield.

“There were massive lines for the people that are camping here as they have to line up to get their bands and then line up to get their bag checks and then line up for the buses,” she said.

“In addition there were lots of underage kids vomiting on the buses as they clearly tried to pre-drink before the festival. You could tell they were underage as they had the yellow bands on.”

The three-day festival in Raglan has been operating for 20-years and in 2021 has a line up including Fat Freddy’s Drop, Katchafire, K Motionz Ladi6, Macky Gee and Mako Road.

It’s not the first time the Raglan festival has encountered transport issues.

Natasha Galloway was another parent of a teenage festival-goer and said her son and friends waited seven hours to board a bus.

She said the wristband company also turned up to Raglan Airfield late.

“This is a festival that’s predominantly for 16 to 18 year olds. So there’s a lot of underage kids who are not driving, don’t have cars.

“I guess some families can take cars in but it’s a young crowd. They were dropped off at 10am and they’ve just this second [5pm] got on the shuttle bus to go into the venue. So they’ve been in an airfield since 10am this morning with no shade, no food, no toilets, nothing, to get their wristband they were told they had to go to the airfield and collect,

Galloway said there were three shuttle buses attempting to transport about 8000 kids, with their camping gear, to the festival grounds.

“From my perspective it’s pretty 101,” Galloway said

“You go, ‘Who’s is our target audience? It’s 16, 17 year olds. Are they coming in a car?’Mostly not. Therefore they’re all coming to the airstrip where we told them to go’. There wasn’t multiple areas where you could go and get your wristbands. We told them to get the free shuttle from the airstrip’.

“Being in danger, maybe that’s a stretch, but it’s a pretty long time to sit in the sun.”

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