Queenstown’s bumper New Year’s eve

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Wakatipu business operators are trumpeting a bumper New Year’s Eve and positive outlook for the coming month. 

Queenstown bar baron Mike Burgess says it’s been the biggest New Year’s Eve for turnover of the 11 years he’s had establishments locally. 

“That’s across the group, every business we have has set new records,” Burgess says, adding it’s partly because of the rain on the night. 

“There were less people outside taking in the entertainment. Even Tuesday was massive again for us because it was raining so what do you do, you go into a bar and eat and drink.” 

Burgess, whose stable includes popular visitor bars Winnies and Buffalo Club plus Zephyr, Bar Up and The Ballarat Trading Co, says turnover was up 20 per cent on last year for most of his night spots, while Zephyr was 50 per cent up. 

“But that’s only new so it’s probably warped a bit.” 

Fellow bar boss Craig Eccles, who co-owns 1876, agrees New Year’s Eve was a record setter, with turnover up 150 per cent on last year. 

For December, business is up 250 per cent on last year, he says. 

“Without sounding cocky, the place has become a hell of a lot more popular with locals. It’s not just cheap drinks, people are enjoying themselves, we’ve got DJs four nights a week.” 

Unlike some other bars, Eccles didn’t have a door charge but hired top local band Ghetto Blaster from midnight. 

“We don’t believe we should charge people for the privilege of coming here, especially when a lot of them are locals and regulars. We think that’s gouging on New Year’s.” 

Eccles admits he put his drink prices up on the night, though, but nobody complained. 

Meanwhile, Skippers Canyon Jet marketing boss Matty Rhodes says they’ve had a fantastic Christmas/New Year period and overall December figures are well up. 

However, with the Shotover River in flood on New Year’s Day and Wednesday thanks to heavy rain, they were off the water for two of the busiest days of the year. 

The outlook for the next few weeks is great with strong pre-bookings, he says, particularly looking ahead to Chinese New Year which falls on February 10. 

“There’s a lot of optimism around. There’s obviously a much greater Chinese market coming through and that’s going to grow.” 

Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd says there’s a very positive outlook through to Chinese New Year. 

“The outlook for January and through to February is very strong.”