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Converging as one

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COLUMN: What a great excuse, To go out on the lash, Coz mate, it's always epic, Whenever we get smashed.

The 'birthday drinking' card in a shop is a crude re-entry to our booze-soaked culture. Every December I talk about going bush at New Years to escape boffheads. Someone suggested the Convergence festival.

A vague image of hippies in outdoor baths sprang to mind. When the website mentioned alcohol- and drug-free, I signed up. Warily. People who can enjoy themselves sober are my idyllic tribe, but a non-trippy hippie? Pull the other one.

The decades-old festival takes place in the boonies near Rangiora. All meals catered, though strictly vegan or vegetarian. Think mountains of mung beans.

I arrived on my lonesome, confident there'd be friendly faces from Nelson. The Welcome tent was staffed by a pal from my old book reading group. Another friend pitched her tent in the space behind my caravan.

Around the big marque, tie-dyed T-shirts mingled with parachute pants. A naked man wandered through, hairless from toe to top.

Okay – I wanted different. Buckle up …

What followed was a sensory rush so consuming I still can't make sense of it. My journal is a scattergun mess.

Each dawn found me sweating in the Hobbit-hole sauna, built inside a buried culvert pipe, with log-burner down one end and thick........

© Stuff