Noise laws covering Queenstown are “backward” and “archaic”, the boss of the New Zealand Restaurant Association says.
Marisa Bidois, chief executive of the national organisation, has slammed the town’s noise controls.
The current 50 decibels night-time restriction means most restaurants and bars must close outside areas by 10pm and shut windows and doors.
“It is archaic,” Bidois says.
“Queenstown is promoted as our best spot for international visitors and it’s quite backward to be shoving people inside at 10pm.
“It is not conducive to hospitality and certainly not very welcoming.
“There are smaller towns where these restrictions are enforced, but definitely not in places like Auckland and Wellington.”
Councillors discussed the contentious issue at a Queenstown Lakes District Council strategy committee meeting on Tuesday.
The agenda recommended the review of noise restrictions be undertaken as part of the district plan review.
But bar and restaurant owners who addressed the meeting complained that this would delay any decision for another two years.
Councillors instead voted to allow a working party – formed to tackle the issue – to continue its work parallel to the district plan review.
Cllr Cath Gilmour says: “It is hugely contentious.
“Restaurateurs and licensees quite justifiably want change because it is impractical and over-restrictive.
“But on the other side you have hoteliers and people who live nearby who want to be able to sleep at night.
“Each side is entrenched.”
Cllr Gilmour says she expects there to be appeals to any decision, which means it could still be several years before the law is changed.
Karen Hattaway, co-owner of Pier 19 and Captains restaurants, spoke at the meeting, alongside Cameron Mitchell – the newly-elected president of the Queenstown branch of the New Zealand Restaurant Association.
Music venue Revolver voluntarily closed its doors earlier this year after noise complaints.
Businesses who flout the noise limits are served with abatement notices by the council. However some operate on licences granted before the restrictions were put in place and so are unaffected.