Queenstowners are a loud lot – and that’s official, with 849 noise complaints in 2012.
Lakes Environmental regulatory boss Lee Webster says the number of complaints was down 16 per cent from the 1017 in 2011 yet dealing with them still costs ratepayers dearly.
For example, Armourguard is employed as after-hours contractor and their call-out fees alone were about $20,000 in 2012.
Queenstown bars and other public venues had their share of noise call-outs.
Here’s how one noise officer recorded his official 9.50pm visit to Camp Street’s SkyBar: “Approx 150-plus pub cruise people outside waiting to get in. Bass as extreme as it gets, levels so high light fell off roof at Betty’s Liquor.
While onsite, floor/roof bouncing.”
However, with just five complaints in 2012, SkyBar didn’t top the year’s CBD bar-noise complaints. That dubious honour went to Brecon St’s Buffalo Club with 10 call-outs, followed by neighbouring Harry’s Pool Bar with six. No other CBD bar had more than one noise call-out in 2012.
A surprising venue entry was Wakatipu Yacht Club, whose Kelvin Heights premises were the butt of nine complaints last year.
Its clubrooms are hired out for private functions.
Buffalo Club co-owner Mike Burgess says it’s a focus from the nearby Sofitel hotel complex. “The Sofitel being right there have drawn a focus to noise under new management and that’s why we show – we’ve been there eight years and we never had noise issues.
“In recent months we’re having more than we’ve ever had and that’s simply why. We’re in touch with council regularly to ensure we comply.
“But noise is a grey area …there’s so much ambient noise around the town from general foot traffic that it’s a hard one to nail down. We do everything we can.”
Cooperative noise-makers get away with just being told to quieten down.
Those less cooperative or anyone making a real racket get an ‘Excessive Noise Direction’ (END) notice.
Webster: “If another legitimate complaint is received for excessive noise within 72 hours of the END being issued, the equipment can be seized or locked or sealed to make it unusable.”
A total of 193 ENDS were issued in 2012, with stereos and other noise-making gear also seized on five occasions.
In the very worst cases a district court noise prosecution under the Resource Management Act can be mounted, although none were during 2012.