Gisborne is already humming and ready to welcome festivalgoers heading to Rhythm and Vines, which kicks off today.

But travellers are warned to take extra care on East Coast roads, which are still delicate having suffered severe damage during Cyclone Gabrielle.

The festival is celebrating its 21st birthday, and up to 30,000 people are expected to attend over three days.

The town was rolling out the red carpet for its visitors, said mayor Rehette Stoltz.

“We could feel the buzz yesterday, I was on the beach yesterday in town and you can see everything is getting a little bit more busy, businesses are getting ready to welcome our guests.”

The “positive energy” in Gisborne was uplifting after a tough year, she said – and some sunshine would be a cherry on top.

“Thank you for coming to support our local businesses, we look forward to hosting you, our region is ready.

“You might need a little poncho in the first half of the first day, but our plan is to have fabulous weather.

“I heard on good authority that it’s on its way.”

But those descending on Te Tai Rāwhiti should be patient and take their time getting there, with rough roads still undergoing repairs.

That was especially the case for State Highway 2 between Napier and Gisborne, said the New Zealand Transport Agency’s Mark Owen.

“Those travelling longer distances, maybe on a route they haven’t travelled for a while, we just advise them to allow extra time for travel, particularly for that area up the East Coast where it’s been hit quite significantly by Cyclone Gabrielle and other weather events,” he said.

“The road is a bit tenuous in some places. There is a lot of sites where we are maybe down to one lane, or temporary traffic management is in place.”

People could expect speed restrictions, and traffic lights in stretches of the road that were down to one lane.

There have also been warnings about dangerous drugs being circulated at other musical festivals, of which attendees should be aware.

By Lauren Crimp of rnz.co.nz

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