Splore was born 20 years ago out of the same thing that sustains it today: community.
In early 1998, Amanda Wright was fresh back in Auckland from a long OE where she'd worked as a DJ in the exploding dance music scene everywhere from Germany to Goa. She found kindred souls and thriving creative scenes at home. The idea of a proper outdoor dance party took shape.
The new crew quickly settled on a name they found in Mrs Burns' Book of Strange and Preposterous Words: Splore.
"It's a Scots word and according to the book it meant 'merrymaking, festivities, carousing and frolicking' or 'a good-going session'," says Amanda. "And we went, perfect!"
After a long search for a site, the first Splore took place over two days and nights at New Year 1998 on a clifftop plain overlooking Karioitahi Beach on Auckland's west coast. Amanda went home thinking that was it. But others came aboard and there two more Splores at Karioitahi.
But the site was raw and dusty, and in 2002, Splore moved to a beautiful, shady location in Waharau Regional Park in the Hunuas, 11km south of its present-day site. That year, a new group called Fat Freddy's Drop played in a geodesic dome and a mad 25-strong circus made the trip from Burning Man.
Complaints from the locals meant there was no Splore the following year and the festival went biennial. After a 2004 show, it was time to move on. But there was a bigger problem: money. Enter former publishing whizz (and, at the time, owner of Galatos) John Minty. He took a majority stake in the festival, clearing debts and ensuring a long-term future for Splore.
In 2006, Splore debuted at its current location in Tapapakanga Regional Park. More space and a bigger talent budget meant bigger crowds. The festival that attracted 700 ravers in 1998 now draws more than 10 times that many.
Gradually, more of the things we all associate with the modern Splore fell into place. In 2008, a one-off performance space gave birth to what is now the site-wide Saturday night dress-up party. And in 2014, Splore's longtime focus on sustainability reached a new peak.
Having fulfilled her goal of producing "the most sustainable festival you can have", Amanda bowed out, leaving John the sole owner of the festival. But the traditions go on. John and festival producer Fred travel the world in the off-season auditioning each year's eclectic live lineup, and new Splorers and old come for the party and the attitude.
"A lot of it's got to do with word of mouth," says John. "People go to Splore and they get home after the weekend and they tell the friends that they think will get it. So it's almost self-qualifying."
And Amanda Wright, who started it all 20 years ago? She still comes every year.
"What brings me back every year?" she says. "I love a good party and Splore is a great party. I have many friends who continue to go And the fact that I can just go and revel in it now is a big thing. It's not mine any more, but I helped create this legacy and I'm able to just enjoy and love every minute of it now."