Lawyer guns for Crate Day

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Raucous celebration: Queenstown's Village Green last December

A Queenstown lawyer’s proposing a bylaw to ban Crate Day gatherings in the resort.

Bryce Whiting says the unofficial summer opener is a “real hark back to the days of irresponsible drinking in New Zealand”.

About 300 people gathered on Queenstown’s Village Green on December 3 – to welcome summer with a crate of beer.

There were no arrests or trouble at the raucous celebration but it left a huge mess.

Others gathered in Queenstown Gardens.

Whiting told councillors at last week’s full council meeting that photos of the celebration had gone around the world.

“I suspect it’s going to be NZ’s major export to the peoples of the world over the next few years,” he says.

The day was created by The Rock radio station seven years ago.

Whiting’s suggested bylaw, handed to councillors, would ban Crate Day gatherings of more than 30 people on reserves or in public areas unless consent is obtained.

He says police should be given the power to confiscate booze, fine people and order them to move on.

Queenstown’s mayor Jim Boult tells Whiting he’ll take a look.

But he says council doesn’t want to be “bulldozed into making a fast decision” on a total 24/7 ban, floated by police and others.

Boult says there needs to be balance as hundreds enjoy a drink outside year round without trouble.

“So while we will look carefully at any requests for a total ban on public drinking, we would need to be convinced that this was the best way of dealing with a specific problem.”

Regulatory boss Lee Webster expects a proposed ban will be wrapped into the wider issue of alcohol harm, but it would need a bylaw review.

MediaWorks Southern Lakes boss Rik Van Dijk says the gathering wasn’t officially sanctioned by The Rock and Crate Day has taken on a life of its own.

“We’re all for people having a good time, but doing so responsibly.”

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz