24/7 ban on table after Crate Day chaos

The aftermath: Queenstown's Village Green on Sunday morning

Queenstown Police are floating the idea of a 24-hour ban on public drinking in the wake of last Saturday’s Crate Day chaos in the resort.

But Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult says he hopes a total ban can be avoided so responsible drinkers are not punished for the antics of a few.

Eight police officers, including additional staff, kept an eye on the 300 people who descended on Queenstown’s Village Green to celebrate Crate Day, a promotion created by The Rock radio station to celebrate the first weekend of summer.

While there were no arrests, the crowd left a huge mess for council contractors to clean up on Sunday morning.

The situation has sparked a storm of comment on social media.

Otago Lakes-Central area commander Inspector Olaf Jensen says police are seeking a meeting with Queenstown’s council later this week, at which they would seek tighter restrictions on public drinking.

Discussions would include a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week ban.

“A 24/7 liquor ban would be supported by police, but we obviously need to look at the shape of that liquor ban, what areas does it cover and things like that,” Jensen says.

“That’s a discussion that needs to be had with the council, who are the legislative power behind this.”

Jensen did not witness Saturday’s event but saw videos and photos later – which he shared with Boult – of the mess left behind.

“We certainly don’t want a repeat.”

Steve Wilde, the general manager of lobby group DowntownQT, said on Sunday that Saturday’s impromptu gathering had probably spelled the end of public drinking in the resort.

Boult says he found Saturday’s antics “pretty disturbing” and did not want to see them happen again.

But he hopes the council can find a middle ground between the current rules and a total ban.

“I guess the sad part is, if you have to go to a ban it stops families having a picnic on the beach and having a quiet glass of wine or a can of beer – they all get swept up in the same thing.”

He was unsure of the clean-up costs, which would be paid for by ratepayers.

Mediaworks Southern Lakes general manager Rik Van Dijk says Saturday’s partying was not officially sanctioned by The Rock and Crate Day had taken on a life of its own.

“We’re all for people having a good time but not at the expense of others’ enjoyment or at the expense of our beautiful resort.”

Asked if it was a good look for the company, he says: “I was as disappointed as everyone to see the mess left behind and we’re certainly not advocating that.”

The company shouted lunch for the council contractors.

Otago Daily Times