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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Posted: 29 Jun 2014

I was there as a 17 year old. There were three of us that went down in my mini. We got two flat tyres on the way from Auckland. One of the guys had to hitch-hike to Huntly to get one of them fixed. Haha!!

We brought no food because we didn't know there were no pass-outs. We had 6 cans of Double Brown between the three of us. There were lots of generous people that shared with us. Such good times!

I loved all the bands. Especially Split Enz, Mi Sex, Roxy Music, Ultravox, Cold Chisel and Icehouse (who were then called Flowers.)

I remember the guy that fell in the long drop too. Yuck!


Posted: 13 Apr 2014

Was the best time! Bro & I got dropped outa town by mum to hitchihike from outa New Plymouth. That was cool, we were 16/17 yrs old!. Got a fab lift from truckie dropped us at corner of road leading 2 Sweet waters. ngarawahia? Then got picked up by old bloke (prob 30!) who set us up in his camp, with food & kept eye on us younguns. No dramas. Thanks bud if yre out there. Was muddy as but had a fab time. Those were the days! The fun had almost ways out the music....sooooo long ago!

John Blackwell

Posted: 02 Nov 2013

Attended the first two Sweetwaters concerts. Like Woodstock Kiwi style. Saw Roxy Music, Ultravox, Inxs, Talking heads,and many more bands.Split Enz? Angels? All a bit fuzzy now as I was wasted most of the time.

Brenda Beardshall

Posted: 12 Jul 2013

Sweet waters yeah ... 2 magical summers. It began my life long love affair with music. I remember the guy falling in the long-drop it was towards the end of the weekend poor guy. Highlights sitting on top of the hill listening to Hello Sailor play Blue Lady (thought at the time it was about some sad pale woman lol ) Remember the Hells Angels and vaguely recall one incident where one of the guys started to push some guy around it was getting heavy and the people around erupted in such a united front of "not here" and "don't be uncool" that it stopped straight away was very cool. Remember the sexy mud fights in the river and a group coming down on a big log singing 'brick in the wall' by Pink Floyd. Great memories Sweet Days, Sweet summer Water days.

Glen Cassidy

Posted: 17 Apr 2013

Yeah I went 3 times I can remember you could follow the beer cans from Hamilton Double Brown I remember Talking Heads Simple Minds Brian Ferry Elvis Costello Split Enze 3 DAYS OF Awesome I had my first trip there Good ol Days


Posted: 14 Mar 2013

I was there as a 17 year old. A group of us drove up from Napier in a Vauxhall Velox which only had 2nd and 3rd gears, no reverse or 1st. We couldn't keep the beer (Fosters) cold either, and most of it got stolen. I got the shits as well from eating at a place called 'Decent Feed' I remember a guy in the longdrop who had fallen in too! The bands were amazing!

joe gilmour

Posted: 07 Feb 2011

Could you imagine. No plastic bottles, no mobiles, no ipods. Lots of lovely ladies topless, men all with cutoff jeans. Long hair and Pot galore. I remember when the Hells Angels rolled in. Very noisy. I can't remember seeing any fights. Just 3 days of listening to great music and partying on. Brian Ferry was fantastic. An experience I will never forget.

joe gilmour

Posted: 13 Jan 2011

Yes i was there. There was about 50 of us from Stratford. One of our tents and some sleeping bags were pinched on the first nite.It was hotter than hell and impossible to keep the drinks cool. The eating stalls were very dodgy, as was the longdrops.I remember one night my friend was taking a dump and the girl in the toilet next to him caved in.She was up to her neck. Most of us had the shits by the second day. It was worth a visit the bands were fantastic. We also went to the second one.