New Zealand Hipster Christmas

Camp A-Low-Hum is Wellington’s homegrown hipster-alternative New Years bash. It’s a multi-day music festival with no line-up announced ahead of time. So if you’ve been there before (I hadn’t), then you’d know what to expect (I didn’t). The venue is part scout camp and part botanical gardens. It’s low budget, high energy, and scene-as-fuck. Welcome to Camp A-Low-Hum.

The pool party kicked off the second day of the festival with 80s synthesizers, retro swimwear and ecstatic day drinkers. On the decks was a man transported through time: he sported a tight, floral button up, a powder blue blazer and horn rimed glasses. His records were dance-pop, disco and instrumental Abba covers. His audience played the part sporting retro one-piece suits and pastel short-shorts. Someone was riding an orca floaty, others hoisted a giant swan. A guy threw an inflatable watermelon slice into the crowd.

The most interesting stage at Camp A-Low-Hum was in the woods. The Forest Stage paired creative sound and stage design with some of the festivals stranger acts to great effect. Right after the New Year’s countdown it was packed for John Lemon’s upbeat house set. Outrageously happy, John was wearing a white linen suit and admitted that this was “the best night of his life.” He played his tracks on iTunes and sang overtop of them. I think everyone could feel his joy and shared that special moment. Unless you were sober, then it was cringe-worthy.

The rest of the festival was a mix of young hardcore rock bands, gritty low-fi techno DJs and a lot of music I didn’t understand. The festival left you with that feel good buzz which is idiosyncratic to the best parts of Kiwi culture and is a testament how these events provide a significant cultural experience to travellers like myself and locals alike.