New Year celebrations have been cancelled and security will
be beefed up at Lake Clearwater, in the Mid Canterbury high
country, this year in an effort to curb the unruly behaviour
which resulted in a number of arrests last year.
Hundreds of young people converged at the freedom camping
site at Lake Camp. During the Lake Clearwater Hut Holders'
traditional New Year's Eve disco, a large number of
intoxicated youth went on a rampage, lighting fires, burning
a car, littering and fighting.
Hoons also reportedly drove at speeds of up to 120km/h in
areas designated as 50km/h zones.
Timaru police responded and a number of arrested were made,
during which officers were pelted with bottles.
Spokesperson for the hut holders Andy Shearer said the
decision to call off the New Year's Eve disco had been made
to dissuade unsupervised youngsters from camping in the area.
"We want to reduce the amount of lawlessness and shenanigans
we witnessed last year," he said.
"We had a meeting with the council and police early in the
year to come up with some ideas to deal with the issue, and
we've asked for an increased police presence."
The youngsters also copped the blame for leaving copious
amounts of rubbish and human waste. Some dug makeshift
toilets, while others defecated around the lakeside, leaving
hut holders and responsible campers to clean up.
In order to combat the environmental destruction, the council
has increased signage about littering around the freedom
camping area and had additional rubbish skips and portable
toilets installed in the area in preparation for this year's
influx of campers.
"It's obviously a pristine environment up there and we want
to keep it nice, but unfortunately some people just come up
there and trash the joint, we are asking people to use those
bins and toilets," Mr Shearer said.
"There are two aspects to it - there's the littering and
damage to the environment and then there's the shenanigans
which could end up with someone getting injured or possibly
killed, so we've asked for an increased police presence and
also the council initiatives to combat those things. We've
done our bit by cancelling the celebration this year to try
and break that link."
- Michelle Nelson of the Ashburton Guardian