NZ Festival: Power Plant

Power Plant is a light and sound installation being held in the Botanical Gardens as part of the NZ Festival. I went along on Tuesday night which was lovely and mild with little in the way of wind. I arrived at the Cable Car terminal in the gardens to find a vast crowd of people all waiting their turn to wander through the defined path that Power Path had been installed along.

In the end those of us in the 9pm start group started walking around 9:30pm. Obviously fair weather meant that everyone decided it’d be a good night to attend. This meant that for the whole experience (I got back up to the cable car at 11pm) there were crowds of people and on the narrower parts of the path queues. In the end I think it was a good and bad thing. Good in that it meant all the installations were interacted with and there was never enough people that I couldn’t get up close to have a better look at anything. Bad in that it was slow going and none of the installations seemed intimate, and it wasn’t possible to spend a lot of time in any one place due to the constant flow of others passing by. I would also have liked to have experienced the event with smaller numbers as I think being alone of nearly alone with some of the works would have raised the atmosphere level considerably.

One thing that was not mentioned on the Festival website or the booking website (or the tickets) was that photography was not allowed. As there was no warning a lot of people had turned up with cameras and for the most part people ignored the photography directive. I didn’t take as many photos as I would have liked but this was more due to the crowds, its just impolite to stand in the middle of a path and take photos. However, as I had come prepared for photography I took a few photos which you can see below.

There can't be many nights in Wellington calm enough to allow hanging smoke outdoors. Tonight was one such night.
There can’t be many nights in Wellington calm enough to allow hanging smoke outdoors. Tonight was one such night.
The crowds were able to move more freely as we approached the duck pond. The DJ choreographed fire show was worth stopping for.
The crowds were able to move more freely as we approached the duck pond. The DJ choreographed fire show was worth stopping for.
Lamps were on the path and tucked away underneath trees. They pulsed and glowed as the eerie music emerged from the darkness.
Lamps were on the path and tucked away underneath trees. They pulsed and glowed as the eerie music emerged from the darkness.
The lights and music combined wonderfully.
The lights and music combined wonderfully.
One of the last installations and visually one of the more impressive the neon highlights and multicoloured spinning lights combined again with unsettling music for a spectacular impression.
One of the last installations and visually one of the more impressive the neon highlights and multicoloured spinning lights combined again with unsettling music for a spectacular impression.

Power Plant was worth a visit though having now experienced it with a large proportion of the Wellington population I can’t quite recommend the experience. Compared to free installations such as the annual light show in the Botanical Gardens for the summer festival and the Lux festival held in Wellington last year I think the Power Plant experience was generally better overall but the effect was spoilt by the crowds.

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