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Busy in Gizzy

Gisborne barista Kash Te Rangi estimated he made 700 coffees over the last two days of 2020. The barista at Peel Street Cafe was one of many hospitality workers around town who juggled the queues for caffeine and food over the past week as around 20,000 visitors came for the three-day New Year's Eve festival.

Other drinks high on the list to boost partygoers were Powerade, while the queues for Tank on Gladstone Road were so long the juice and smoothie shop ran out of supplies and had to close early on December 30.

From behind the till at Peel Street's NRG Bakery, one of the owners described business as “diabolical” as a line of customers snaked out the door — unheard of in Gisborne until the four days leading up to New Year's Eve.

It is the 18th year the music festival has been held here, with locals now accustomed to living in a New Year's Eve hot spot.

But while the supermarkets and roads heaved with traffic from the visitors, locals tended to avoid the city centre.

For businesses not in the top five places R&V visitors go — liquor shops, supermarkets, food shops, gas stations and The Warehouse — it can be a dead week for retail.

Grant Bros owner Renee Grant said it almost wasn't worth opening during the week between Christmas and New Year as most locals stayed out of the city centre.

R&V visitors did not come to Gisborne to shop in the city's stores, she said.

“We don't do very well out of it. It mainly keeps our regulars out of town. Most of the locals stay away and won't come into town because of the traffic.

“It's great for them (festival owners) that the festival still has the pulling power to attract so many still after all this time, but not for the rest of us.

“It is chaotic — but it is only for three days.”

On the fringe of the CBD, Evans Meat Supermarket owner Jaki Watson said they had seen more locals through the door but no Rhythm and Vines visitors.

“They don't tend to shop at butcher shops. They tend to shop at the supermarket.

“We finally get the locals out of the supermarket and supporting local, though.”

Ballance Street Village is another cluster of shops where locals can go to stay out of the CBD.

But even that was quieter than usual in the lead-up to New Year's Eve, with the Village Bakery the only place that reported being busy.

Owner Natalie Ross said it was because they sold food.

Her customers had been mainly R&V visitors or locals staying away from town, she said.

The cold and rainy weather created a few extra sales this year, mostly at the big brand stores.

R&V visitor Sam Mercardo, 24, said she was caught out by the cooler temperatures.

“We didn't expect the weather to be so shit. I had to buy some jumpers from Cotton On.”

Cotton On reported a “very busy” Tuesday, December 29, with warm clothing the most popular item.

The Warehouse had empty shelves where gumboots used to be and Briscoes had a run on blankets.

Mitre10 Gisborne co-owner Geoff Taylor said the R&V punters were after rainwear, gumboots and tarpaulins.

“Anything to keep them dry. We sold over 2000 disposable rain ponchos on Tuesday and Wednesday, and are completely sold out.

“Wearing rubbish bags now seems to be the only option to keep dry and these are also selling well.”

Tresor Niyonzima, 18, said he and his mates had to buy more blankets for camping as “it was colder than I thought”.

Brianna Hunt, 19, said camping was terrible.

“It's so cold and you wake up and the tent is soaked.”

She made a trip to The Warehouse to buy more clothes.

Her mate James Greenslade said it had not been too bad at “Base Camp”, where they were staying.

“I had clothes. I was prepared. Some of us checked the weather forecast,” he said.

Gisborne i-Site staff have been working hard, dealing with the large influx of tourists.

I-Site manager Hana Edwardson said this year there was a blend of families and festival-goers.

“Compared to last year, where R&V-ers were 100 percent dominant, this year the i-Site building has been full with more of a mix of visitors.

“Actually, we've seen wave after wave after wave of families travelling.

“There have been a few people travelling to Gizzy and then looking for accommodation, which has been fun. But we have managed to home everyone, which has been really good.

“It's been a really nice feel. Definitely Kiwis like to travel.”

Gisborne Railbikes, Dive Tatapouri, Gisborne City Vintage Rail's steam train and the i-Site's mini-golf course have been the most popular attractions, said Ms Edwardson.

“Even in the rain on Wednesday, it was packed.”


  1. Tania Barbarich says:

    Never been a fan of RnV. Always felt that for that time, Te Tairawhiti became a whoring dumping ground for out-of-towners. Wham bam thank you ma’am with no respect given to the place or people thereof. Liquor stores, The Warehouse, Pak’n’Save and bakeries being the only real winners. All other shops suffer because locals stay away and tourists aren’t interested. Always glad to see the back of them.

  2. Kira Broughton says:

    Red Cross Shop was inundated with RnVrs, buying wet-weather gear, jerseys, coats etc.
    We did a roaring trade and those who came in were a joy to serve.
    These young people were curious and were mindful of our customers.

  3. Shar Wharehinga says:

    Mostly well behaved young people with manners. If anything the locals were the ones spoiling it for Gisborne.

  4. Paul Rankin, Whangarei says:

    What a waste of time joining this discussion, everyone has something to moan about – you have 363 days Gisborne to make your money and in 2 to 3 days they stop coming because a festival is happening. WTF, wake me up!