Staff at the Dunedin Botanic Garden are
concerned about the growing popularity of a drinking game
called "possum", in which participants sit in trees and drink
large amounts of alcohol.
According to the website Urban Dictionary, "possum" is a
"drinking game in which players have to sit in a tree, like
possums, and consume a pack of 24 beers ... until they fall
out of the tree from drunkenness".
Dunedin City Council gardens and cemeteries team leader Alan
Matchett said staff first encountered people - believed to be
mainly students - playing the game about four years ago.
Since then, it had increased in popularity to the point where
it was "not uncommon" for gardens staff or security guards to
have to chase away people playing the game.
Mr Matchett said his understanding of the game was that
multiple people climbed a single tree, taking with them large
amounts of alcohol and sometimes food.
This was a concern, he said, because of the food scraps,
broken bottles and vomit often left behind, the potential for
someone to get injured falling from a tree and the effect it
had on other users of the gardens.
Staff were concerned about the damage that could be caused to
trees, some of which were classed as heritage trees and were
more than 100 years old.
Anyone caught playing the drinking game was asked to leave,
with gardens staff working closely with the University of
Otago's Campus Watch in keeping an eye on the area.
A university spokesman said the institution regarded "any
such activities" as a breach of its code of conduct and would
"There have been two occasions earlier this year where
students have been located by Campus Watch in trees, drinking
and causing a public nuisance in the Botanic Garden.
"Because Campus Watch was involved in both cases, the
students were required to clean up their litter and to meet
with the proctor for disciplinary action," the spokesman