Bar crawls battling

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Queenstown’s bar crawls are fighting to stay alive after pressure on licensees to stop serving them. 

Queenstown Lakes District Council’s Lakes Environ­mental has set a deadline of this Saturday for bars to ban bar crawls – but last-minute pleas to mediate the process are in the works. 

A meeting between bar crawl operators and Lakes Environmental has dis­cussed whether the bar crawl business model could be amended. 

As it stands, authorities claim bar crawls breach the Sale of Liquor Act by promoting excessive consumption of alcohol. 

Lakes Environmental regulatory and corporate services manager Lee Webster says their main concern relates to the number of free drinks and number of bars visited in a night. 

“We’ve advised [the operators] as to where we are coming from. They understand our position, [and] we’ve had constructive conversations.” 

The pressure on bar crawls may ease if a proposal is made that all parties are happy with, Webster says. 

Big Night Out operator Ben Calder says bar crawls like his are prepared to work with the authorities to be able to continue in Queenstown. 

On whether they’d be forced into closure on Saturday, he says: “It’s still to be decided. 

“We talked about things that we were prepared to meet in the middle with them.” 

Calder says he still doesn’t know where the issue with his operation has come from. 

“That is the golden question, because it certainly didn’t come from complaints against us … that’s what caught us out by surprise the most.” 

Last week, Kiwi Crawl operator Gavin Larsen told Mountain Scene he felt authorities were using bullying tactics 
to scare licensees into complying with the bar crawl ban.