The first Sweetwaters festival

The first Sweetwaters festival

A scene from the first Sweetwaters festival, which was held from 26 to 28 January 1980 near Ngāruawāhia. Unlike the venue for many music festivals, the site was not a natural amphitheatre.

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21 comments have been posted about The first Sweetwaters festival

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Steve. W.

Posted: 16 Oct 2022

Never forget it big event back then had my 17 yr old girl of my dreams to impress indecently still got her met Elvis Costello at main Street in Auckland got autograph on cocktail menu remember the line up mi sex dragon split enz Elvis Brian ferry narcs list goes on absolutely pinnacle of memory's for me and my geogous wife man we're we spiolt for talent always remember the helicopters flying the Waikato River taking pictures of all the nudes bring back the good old days of freedom and innocence!!!!


Posted: 08 Aug 2022

Started badly when a numpty pulled a U-turn in front of us on SH1 and we hit them. Local garage offered us their gear and we got the car going again.

Then things got way better....

Toy Love and someone throwing their shoes at/to Chris Knox. That was one glorious performance. Top band!

Being in the midst of the Elvis Costello crowd and being adopted for the show by an older crowd.

Neil finn

Posted: 18 Aug 2021

A mate and i attended this event spending all our money on alcohol
And didnt think about where to sleep ended up sleeping under our little morry minor withh just oud heads sticki g out the back


Posted: 22 Jul 2020

That scene is exactly as I remember it.
I was 18 and we had all driven up from Dunedin.
My boyfriend was in the Netherworld Dancing Toys. It was almost one of the first performances they did.
Exciting days.
It was Hot, and dusty— lots of police presence and the air was thick with pot.
I do remember that someone had drowned in a river on the property ....I think it was due to alcohol.
Was an awesome festival and we could move around to different stages during that time as many bands were playing there.


Posted: 16 May 2020

I was there with mu older brother and his wife at the age of 17 years fell asleep on the hill listening to Mi Sex whatta blast that was!


Posted: 20 Apr 2020

Rode up from Wellington after work (CPC Databank) on my Kawasaki H2 750 ........there was a place just for bikes so left it there and went looking for my friends. Somehow I found them ....pitched my tent in the dark and hardly slept at all for the next two or three days....wonderful times


Posted: 13 Apr 2020

Traveled up from Stratford with mates, just 16yrs old not knowing what to expected, not much money, drinks, or dope but found 60 dollars and had a blast, always remember up front of stage when the Angles were on and one of the guitarist was hit in the head with a piece of watermelon, the guy never missed a beat and kept on playing. The best of times were had at Sweetwaters..


Posted: 21 Jan 2020

Came up from Wellington in a Renault dofine (850cc) with two girls me lying across the back seat, I was 17, mind blowing music great people a party like no other took hours just to get to the stage, never forget it


Posted: 16 Aug 2018

Best time of my life. I was 20 great group of friends 6 of us in was awesome not that I remember all of it !!! Do remember bathing in the great waikato river after the second day and how bad the long drops smelt lol..oh and all the mud but I've never had so much fun and great memories made..2 of those beautiful people I was with have sadly passed..way before their time..hope your both rocking on to your own sweet waters up there my dear one else knows our good times .....


Posted: 28 Nov 2017

82 & 83.... A bunch of Airforce Guys (5) from Auckland... first time was just in cars and we meet up gradually with about 10 AF others over the weekend - 3days.. atmosphere was so cool.. police were friendly. Smell of ... in the air did not make them investigate . Took 20 x 20 double browns 500 ml.. Almost finished them between 5 of us. beautiful sites ... ladies ..... Music was great. I rolled down the hill accidentally to the song .. I see red I see red... and bounced up onto to my feet like boom !!! as if nothing happened ... but alas no .. cheers and claps from all around.. Ultravox with the swinging light bulb.... Got lost coming back from stage . woke up 20 metres away from our camp when sun came up... 83 ... left a day ealier and will stay a day longer - 5 days. We had it sorted - Ha ha .... A mates old truck partially converted to sleeper.. travel down SH 1 - 6 hours from AK- had to keep refilling radiator. chilly bins full. A beauty topless on a horse. Blew up a Hydrogen balloon approx 1 metre in diameter- ex military for spotting liferafts . Blew up in my face - couldnt see for the rest of the day. stung like sh....t. mates blew up the second one - success. sat on roof of truck scoring the fine ladies.... Oh Yes Great music once again....