Never too early to stake your campsite claim
Some Parachute Festival punters were so keen to stake a claim on a good campsite they waited from 3am on opening day.
Because the three-day Christian music festival regularly attracts more than 20,000 people, there's plenty of competition for a good spot.
The Parachute line-up this year includes former Australian Idol winner Stan Walker, boy-band Titanium, Ohio five-piece band The Devil Wears Prada, and Kiwi electro pop artist Ruby Frost.
Mystery Creek's gates opened at 9am Friday for Parachute supporters - who make a monthly donation - and 11am for the general public, who went "madly rushing through", Parachute spokesman Luke Oram said.
"We've had people from 3am out there."
One person reportedly cycled up from Wellington, arrived in the wee small hours, and dossed down near the gates until they opened.
But repeat festival attendees Carlin Leong, 19, and Miriam Harris, 18, had another way of getting a head start. Because they are volunteer crew members they set up camp on Thursday night.
Harris will be rubbing shoulders with the stars when she serves them in the artists' lounge.
Leong came with the Red Frogs group, which usually provides support at events where alcohol and young people mix.
He expected to be promoting its work and helping out around the stages.
Yet they will have free time to enjoy the festival.
"It's a good social event," he said.
"All your friends come and friends from other places around the country. It's like a place to catch up if you don't see them all year . . . and the music's always good as well."
He was hoping to catch Banglade$h because he went to Hamilton Boys' High School with the members.
Nearby campers Fiona and Tim Taylor were veterans who had come from Auckland.
They have brought their family to Parachute since 2005, and this year have five of their six children with them.
"We've lived all over the country and this is one place where we go ‘oh, there's so-and-so from Palmerston North . . . You inevitably cross paths and catch up with people. It's quite nice," Mrs Taylor said.
And even pitching the tent was enjoyable because of the "great atmosphere" where campers helped each other out with mallets and tent pegs.
Clinton Allen, 23, secured a tent site within earshot of the main stage, courtesy of being supporters and getting in at 9am.
The habitual spot for him and friends from Auckland's Clevedon Youth Group is on a slight rise - a boon the year Parachute was flooded out.
"We were so thankful we were on the hill, so that's why we've always come back."
Waking up to sound checks and hearing the morning message from their campsite were also a bonus.
And Friday was also a day of setting up for the artists.
Late afternoon, pianist David Love was in the carpark with the shell of an upright piano - a bit of "smoke and mirrors" to drop a keyboard into.
"Last year I had people come up to us afterwards who should know better that thought it was a real piano."
In his fourth year of performing at the festival, Mr Love will play with Strahan, Edge Kingsland, and Paper Cranes.
According to spokesperson Luke Oram:
Sunscreen Water Parachute app – has the schedule and "everything they need to know"
A jersey to stay warm at evening performances
KiwiYo self serve frozen yoghurt – the stalls have proved a "crowd favourite"
- Waikato Times