Gathering-goers gear up
Nelson is likely to be a quieter place once some of the hordes of people who have packed the city during the past few days head off to the Gathering today.
Nelson's streets have been packed with shoppers and visitors, while the Maitai Valley has been full of keen Gathering-goers biding their time until the start of the big dance party tomorrow. A quick drive up the Maitai Valley found people camped out all along the Maitai River.
Most Gathering-goers are from around New Zealand, but there is a small element of foreigners who say they heard about the event while travelling here and decided to go. One couple, New Yorker Bobo Young, 32, and his Tahitian companion Vaimarama Toulemonde, 19, have just come from a Rainbow Gathering in the North Island. They were found eating a late lunch with two New Zealand women and four German travellers, all sharing the same campsite and looking forward to the 48-hour dance party.
Mr Young and Ms Toulemonde said that although the Gathering was more commercial than the Rainbow Gathering they had just come from, they were looking forward to meeting some of the estimated 8000 to 12,000 people going to Canaan Downs.
The two Kiwi women, Rita Burridge, 18, of Christchurch, and Michelle Guest, 19, of Wellington, said it would be their third Gathering. "It's just a wicked atmosphere," Ms Burridge said.
One of their German friends said that when they heard about the Gathering they thought it would be good to go to, but it was "very small". "When I heard 10,000 people - it's not very big," he said. "The biggest I've heard of is the Laugh Parade in Berlin, where one million people come together from all over Europe and dance in the streets."
Caption: Photo PATRICK HAMILTON These four visitors from different parts of the world stopped by the Maitai River to camp and share a meal before heading off to this year's Gathering. From left are Rita Burridge of Christchurch, Michelle Guest of Wellington, Bobo Young of New York City and Vaimarama Toulemonde from Tahiti.