Gloriavale, the gloriest place out. Is that a word? Gloriest? oh well it seems to fit.

So team as all 1900 of you that follow my snapchat know I went to bloody Gloriavale or Gvale as I like to call it, oh my words cannot describe what it was like! Shit it was out of this world, now I'm more referring to the show than I am the actually strange Christian commune Gloriavale is but still the whole experience was pretty amazing.

We booked tickets through the email address provided on their website when the last documentary was aired on television, well actually my mate Suze booked tickets she was the brains behind the whole team/operation Gvale. She was the one who though after watching it you know what I'm going to go there yo mates who wants to come, obvs I was like erm me me me!! There were five of us that went and we were all freaking the fuck out as much as the next person like we were actually going to Gloria bloody vale, I don’t know if we were more excited or nervous (shit I feel like I'm writing a travel review or something hahahaha) but we were going and that’s all that mattered.

Now when you go you have the option to stay on site like with the gloriavalians (again not sure if this is a real word) but as a nervous bunch of young lasses we opted not to, for me I was terrified we would have been like billeted with them you know like when you go on a sports strip and you get billeted home with a weird family well this would have been next level weird. I actually would have been all yolo and stayed there but alas the unknown got the better of us. However next time (yep we are booked in to go again) I will be staying on site? maybe ok probably not because I kind of want to get boozy on my night away from the kids and you can NOT get boozey at Gvale wellll you kind of can like I drunk a Speights I had for a roady when I was driving up the driveway but the only beverage on offer inside Gvale is the home brew beer which was actually alcohol free and I heard the man next to me describe as a watered down beer less beer or a really delightful homemade fizzy apple juice. I'm going of topic shit this is too exciting to write out!

Ok so we drove from Christchurch the Saturday of and stayed in a book a Bach type place in Lake Brunner, it was great had a cozy fire, a banging view no whining children oh and running water... NOT we could not get the stupid water to run from the stupid rain tank up the stupid pipes to the stupid house (roll eye) god what a nightmare. It wasn’t too bad like we didn’t need a shower in the less than 24 hours we were there and we had bottled water to drink buttttt mates when we got home from Gvale at like midnight the food wasn’t sitting so great and I had to poop (yep ladies like me really poop) and I was like erm guys I need to poop, now normally I wouldn’t share my desire to poop with fellow ladies and especially with my bunk mates but you see I was aware of the water sitcho and we were currently using the "if its yellow let it mellow, if its brown flush it down" rule of thumb and I was like yo what if isn’t yellow and cant mellow?! OMG so awks but alas I let them know and it made for a way less awkward time I mean imagine if someone went to the bathroom and then yelled out oi who took a shit and didn’t flush it?! This was I was able to maturely diffuse the code brown sitcho and flush the poop into poo land like 10 minutes later.

Right Gvale god it was glorious, it's legit in the middle of now where there's no reception and it’s a descent stretch of gravel road to get there. You go past a big lake which could be strategic so the escapees have to swim to run away? no they can just leave I'm sure that’s what they told us lol. You drive in and go past a dairy shed, a deer shed, a aero plane hangar and air strip, a few other sheds and then you see it, that huge grand white building that is Gloriavale (ok it's just that big white building you see on the TV doco) by now we are fizzing with excitement I think it's better than Christmas and my children’s birth combined! But there is also the nerves and slight anxiety that they might drug as and we would wake up in the Glroiavale get up ready to meet our soon to be husbands (jokes). It's pretty surreal there's a preschool, a school and the dorms that they sleep in which might I add has a seriously impressive lineup of buggy's right outside the door, I'm talking like 20 for reals and they probably had more elsewhere. We parked up and were shown into the building which was a pretty basic churchy kind of foyer but then you walked around the corner where you were greeted with a bloody ginormous castle with a freken glass moat thing, shit! this was unexpected to say the least. We were taken by a man names Valient and seated where we had so much cutlery I didn’t even know what to do with it and a cute name card, the programme was a scroll rolled up and then there was a place mat with princesses and shit on it, then there was a bread roll and it was the best bread you would have ever tasted in your life. I havent even gotten to the front of the stage yet!! Team it gets better, the stage was some next level shit there was a bloody dragon that was life sized but wait its head moved and it was controlled by bungee cords with a little kid siting inside watching through a TV screen oh and a 16-year-old designed it. Then there was the giant sized book shelf thing and the big open book that moved. It felt like we were at movie world (disclaimer I haven’t been to movie world since the mid-nineties so I could be really wrong but I think Gvale was up there), the time and money that must have gone into just the set let alone the costumes and props is mind boggling I did hear a wee rumor that a cheeky two million is poured into these shows. So they run over a six-week period Tuesday-Saturday with a few day shows thrown in as well like it's a full showcase that would rival any theatre company!

We had an orchestra play whilst we ate and they were really good, they even played a bit of Westlife!! Then a man spoke a lot whist we ate I know bits got a bit godly but let’s be honest I was eating so didn’t pay a whole lot of attention oops. We didn’t catch his name but he was 90 so maybe one of the founders?! He yarned and then yarned some more until we had finished and the show started, I tell you what through it was one bloody well-oiled machine like we were served so fast and our tables were cleared faster we had literally eaten before you could say bobs my uncle or just recite a long verse from the bible. All the servers (they were actually members of the community in case someone thought they hired actually staff, I bet they didn’t have to pay these kids) had the bow tie well it was actually one of those funny western bow ties you know the ones with the long ties and they also had napkins over all of their arms it was super profesh. The names were interesting we had everything from watchful to Christie like what kind of a godly name is Christie? any who that’s neither here nor there. The uniforms were fucked like really strange everyone had white sneakers mostly with Velcro (we did wonder if they got discounts for buying them in bulk through new balance) although we saw a few kids with Nikes on which surprised us, and then there were the shirts for the men and the dresses for the gals. I also noticed during parts where the women had ball gowns on they still had pants underneath, in case a bit of ankle was exposed during a twirl.

I'm not going to go through the show scene by scene but I have attached a copy of the program so you kind of get the picture however I will tell you about my fave parts. There was the kid's that literally parachuted from the ceiling, the real horse that rode on stage, the dinosaur that they referred to as a dragon (not sure what happened here I know they used google for parts of the show), then there were the kids dressed as like lizards who were so fucking cute but didn’t really have an actual purpose being in the show, then the kids dressed as toucans and you could see their wee faces peeping out from behind the beaks, they had life sized trucks and a train (these were both driven by kids and I later learnt had kids inside them running around to make it move, again they used a screen hooked yup to a camera to see where they are going, there were the knights and the princesses, the cops and robbers, the sheep that I couldn’t tell if they were real people or mechanical things, there were otters and seals and lions and elephants like you name it they had it! The design aspects were beyond belief, like seriously words cannot describe what we witnessed.

Then before we knew it the whole thing was over and I was all what the shit just happened?! There were a few parts that were obviously religion based but not a lot compared to the other parts in the show and I wouldn’t have expected it to be religion free as Christianity is such a huge part of the community, I can’t fault them on it though because let’s be honest they could have made it boring as fuck and banged on about god the whole four hours, it was really really well done. They encourage you to take you children and I get that it was very family friendly but it was long and a late night I for one will not be taking my children until they are much much older because if they are squirming and crying I'm not enjoying my Gvale fix am I!

During the clearing of dessert, a lovely young lady took a liking to me, I'm not sure if it was my friendly ways as I probed her for details or my inappropriate full face of makeup but either way old mate offered us a tour after the show! Um shit yes I want you to take me around Gloriavale at 10.30pm, I'm not nervous at all (we totally were). As the show finished we eagerly awaited our personal tour guides return and might I add she promptly returned much to our delight and announced we could ask her anything! Anything? are you sure? we might have been able to ask anything but I guess she didn’t actually have to answer anything she didn’t want to. We started on the stage where we asked a lot about the show because let’s face it the show was incredible, she knew a lot and was happy to ask someone else if she didn’t know example the flooring moved during certain parts of the show like it would gilt you forwards oh and then we were sprayed with water it was actually a 4D experience! Well she was able to tell us how they made all of that happen (steam pipes under the flooring), she knew that the lighting and holograms were all done by members of the community and admitted they were genius's (the visual display was top class and who ever created it all could be raking in the moolah with the best in the game), she told us what the props were made of and how they worked, she even admitted they made 90% of the costumes but did run out of time and brought in the last 10% from China.

Then we moved to the back stage area where we saw the amazing props and costumes in person, we saw the dressing rooms and ended up in the preschool, I was there with three preschool teachers so this was extra interesting to them (us I'm totally a preschool teacher lol). We were introduced to one of the preschool teachers whom we never got her name (booooo) and she proudly showed us some of the children’s work and spoke about how the run, she had recently became qualified and you could tell this was a big deal. Then Lyds came in who was her daughter she too had just become qualified but she actually studied in Tauranga which we wished we asked more about like did she wear her uniform there?! Now Lydia was recently married and was smitten with her hubby it was all quite sweet but also intense, we formed a bit of a women’s circle where we all actually felt super comfortable asking anything we wanted, I asked about childbirth and care as I am super interested in that, we asked about childcare and schooling, marriage and their faith. It was hard to tell whether they were drilled on what to not talk about but at the same time they were super transparent with us and we spent the whole hour drive back to our accommodation compiling a list of things we wished we had asked. The older one of the group was 43 and very close to birthing her 11th child she talked about the time off she would take after the baby was born (which was only a few months) then she talked about how the young ones become to be married, this was interesting some bits were hard for us outsiders to understand but some of what she said really made me think you know what we could learn a bit from you people. She discussed how the young men decided when it was time to get married and how they would then pray with the elders on who the wife would be, she spoke of how she was concerned when one of her son said he was ready when she though he might not have been but how now she has the most beautiful godson and gorgeous daughter in-law. We learnt that it takes time to love your spouse in such a marriage because, it's not built on sexual attraction which means they love their husbands for actual qualities and I'm not going to lie she made sense their especially when we have such a high divorce rate in our modern world, she spoke how marriage is hard work and that’s ok there is always something to work on. Don't get me wrong at the same time there were concerning things like the men and women making commitments at such a young age and the possibility of being forced in to it? but all in all it was actually a really nice chat we had with these women. They have home births and have trained midwives within the community with a super low transfer to hospital rate, I asked if this was due to the women not having that fear instilled in them like we do in the modern world and she agreed saying everyone has home births its normal whereas for us hospital births are the norm,. I think it was important for her to say that they have nothing against hospitals and there is always a need for medical care if the situation calls for it. I think it's a similar thing with the marriages like they only see relationships surviving if it's not an option to fail then you are going to put more work into something, I do thing we out here throw in the towel to soon in many situations because it's too hard.. I'm over here with these women like yo no one ever said it was going to be easy sit your arse down talk about it work out a plan and get on with it, ask for help if you need to but at least try to make it work.

Shit I got a bit ranty but those were the positives I got from that conversation, those were the thing I took away and was like you know what she actually knows a thing or two. But I'm not saying it's legit and I'm def not saying I want to run away and join Gvale but I am saying they are people just like us but they live a different life, they actually have no stresses or worried like we do I mean they obviously have those things but not in the capacity we do. The flip side is I guess they live in fear, they live in fear of us and the outside world. They don’t understand us and we don’t understand them, it's easier for us to mock them from a far after watching one documentary than it is for us to say hey you know what they have their beliefs and I have mine and that’s cool, don’t get me wrong we made the jokes about getting locked in there and the monobrow comments (there were a lot of monobrows?!) but we still gave them the time of the day to help us understand. Example the douche sitting next to me who took the piss the whole night, clapped at inappropriate times like a 10-year-old might I add and then spoke over the elder who addressed us at the start and at the end, seriously grow the fuck up mate and if you chose to come into their space like you did then you need to listen to what they have to say and give them the respect that they deserve for feeding you and entertaining you for free!

We saw the kitchen and they make everything themselves from cheese to soft serve gosh it was impressive; they cook with mainly steam so must save a killing on power lol. The mixers could fit five or so children in them and the sinks were long enough to wash a stable of horses, the kids whistled as they washed like they seriously enjoyed what they were doing (this could have been for show) haha.

Fun facts

  • They have 300 under the age of 15
  • The male to female ratio is way out with like 150 men and 250 women
  • They have some serious business smarts
  • They see
  • The food we ate was strange we aren’t sure if it was chicken or pork and it came in rice with peas, slices of tomato, mushrooms, bacon and these potato chip things.
  • They make their own fizzy and alcohol free beer
  • We were served twisties for an entree
  • It's free
  • You can stay there for the night
  • They have a high ero rating
  • They put on 43000 meals during the show
  • 700 stay on site during the shows (public)
  • They use the internet to choreograph it all
  • They were very sexist, only one women had a solo singing role
  • Only men had lead parts
  • They get a music teacher in every three weeks and everyone has to learn and instrument
  • The young girls showed a lot of confidence and were very sure of themselves
  • Average age to get married would be between 17-22
  • The average amount of children per family was 9ish
  • They all like in a dorm but stay within immediate families
  • The whole show was done without outside help
  • The new documentary is about Dove and Faithful
  • They all talk strange and I think it is because they were founded in Australia plus they don’t speak to many people outside the community they have developed their own accent
  • The choir was amazing!

Ok this was hard to write because I was trying to remember it all! So if I have forgotten something ask and I might know the answer but for now I'm done, I have tried to stay super respectful towards Gloriavale and the people because you know what they invited us in and put on a bloody good show! They deserve nothing but credit for that, I know dody stuff has happened and possibly still does but we had an amazing time and are re booked to go back. You MUST go, seriously it's a once in a life time thing it's actually a bucket list must do ok.

Oh and watch the new programme on Wednesday night! We got the inside goss from Dove herself.