English import cruisin’ for a boozin’.
If they handed out medals for partying, Neil Chapman would be one of the most decorated revellers in Queenstown.
When it comes to having a good time, he never hesitates to lead from the front.
And when what he calls “the amateurs” hit resort bars to let their hair down this New Year, it’ll simply be business as usual for hard-core party animal Chapman.
He’s already drawn up a liver-busting itinerary of festive bar crawls and knees-ups that would have lesser mortals screaming for their mothers.
He only goes at one pace and that’s “full steam ahead”.
Don’t even mention hangovers to fun-loving Chapman. He just doesn’t do them.
“If I suffered the next day I would chuck it,” he grins.
“But even if my face is bright red and my skin has blistered up after a bender, it’s OK. I look a lot worse than I feel.
“The only time I ever get a bit ratty is when I’ve had too much sleep. I need just two hours’ kip and I’m ready to do it all again.”
His bar-hopping exploits in Queenstown have already earned him the nickname The Man About Town.
Friends even list him as that on their mobile phone contact lists.
And they never know what the fancy dress king will turn up as either…
He’s been known to appear for nights out as a shaven-headed monk or carrying a plastic human head on a chain under his arm.
Or he’ll simply paint himself white and don his favourite pink goggles – complete with flashing lights.
“I just like a laugh,” he says. “And there’s a party going on nearly every night of the week in this town.”
Chapman, from Barnsley in England, arrived here on holiday by Kiwi Experience bus almost two years ago.
He only intended staying a few days after bunking up at the Aspen Lodge backpackers.
But he quickly became addicted to skydiving and the nightlife, and has been here ever since.
“I was breaking up with my girlfriend of 10 years in the UK,” he says.
“When I discovered Queenstown, I realised it was the perfect place to get over the relationship and get right back out there and in amongst it.”
The 33-year-old former telephone engineer called his partner in Barnsley to say he wasn’t coming home – and for her to give his belongings to charity.
“All I was left with was a set of golf clubs and a chainsaw – and that’s because they were stored at my mother’s house,” he says. “It all happened so fast.
“I’d originally only come down to this part of the world to visit Australia for a few weeks and follow England playing cricket in the Ashes.
“It was non-stop partying all the way and after deciding to come to New Zealand, I somehow ended up in Queenstown.”
Chapman – who now installs air conditioning for a living – can’t wait for New Year celebrations to begin.
“Who knows what’ll end up happening because I’m very much a spur-of-the-moment sort of guy.”
He hasn’t quite fulfilled his mission to have a pint in every bar in Queenstown – but he’s working on it.
“There’s only a couple of hotels I haven’t tried but I’ll eventually get around to them,” he insists.
Chapman isn’t a fan of the 4am blanket closing time curfew, introduced in the resort in August.
“I never saw any major hassle in Queenstown when the bars were open all night,” he says.
“When people are chucked out on to the street at the same time now it causes a bit more friction
in places like taxi queues and fast food outlets, which isn’t good.”