Up to 80 resident and visiting police officers will be
rostered to keep the Wakatipu's streets and roads safe on the
days surrounding New Year's Eve, when Queenstown becomes a
The resort's average population of 46,000 residents and
visitors a day swells to about 90,000 during the peak summer
Among the causes for concern are alcohol abuse, leading to
drink-driving and disorderly behaviour, adverse effects from
''herbal highs'', and poor driving, leading to frustration
Senior Sergeant John Fookes, officer in charge of Queenstown
police, said a significant added factor this year was the
inaugural Rhythm and Alps music festival, which was expected
to attract more than 7500 revellers.
While the festival on December 30 and 31 would be near
Cardrona, and be managed by Wanaka police, it was unclear
whether it would lift Queenstown visitor numbers.
Asked what summer seasonal issues Queenstown police were
prepared to deal with, Snr Sgt Fookes said alcohol and the
increase in visitors were the big issues.
''What we try and do is get out the message for those who are
here, to drink responsibly if they are going to drink,'' he
''Some of the keys are looking after your mates and the
others in your group. Take responsibly for their own actions
and some for keeping an eye on your friends and maybe quietly
pulling them back into line when that's needed.
''Some people think when you're on tour the usual rules don't
apply. We'd simply say they do, and keep a check on your
''If you look after yourself in terms of your level of
sobriety, you are far less likely to be a victim of all sorts
of offending, including violent offending and any form of
''The rates of reported sexual assaults are very low, but
that doesn't mean to say there aren't some things you can
More drink-drivers than usual are anticipated over the
Queenstown police in marked and unmarked patrols will be
bolstered by the highly visible ''booze buses'' of the Rural
Drink-Drive Squad, of Alexandra, and the Traffic Alcohol
Group, of Invercargill, all dedicated to the apprehension of
drink-drivers on the roads and at checkpoints.
Snr Sgt Fookes said a drink-driving conviction in court meant
an instant loss of driving licence and had other detrimental
implications with insurance and liability for costs.
Overseas visitors who were convicted of drink-driving were
referred by police to Immigration New Zealand.
If the offender was in the country on a temporary visa, the
conviction was likely to make the person ineligible for a
residency visa and, in extreme cases, they could be deported.
''If you're going out to a function, or into town, plan in
advance how you're going to get home, whether that's
involving taxis, a designated driver or public transport,''
Snr Sgt Fookes said.
''You're far better to do that planning before you go out
because once you've been out for a few hours you aren't
necessarily in the best condition to attend to those
Sergeant Linda Stevens, as alcohol harm reduction officer,
said the vast majority of licensees around the Wakatipu
region were responsible operators doing a difficult job well.
The 24-hour liquor ban begins on December 27 at 6am and runs
until 6am on January 6.
People cannot possess or drink alcohol within the liquor ban
area, which covers Queenstown's central business district,
all of the Lake Wakatipu foreshore from the One Mile
Roundabout to Park St and includes the Queenstown Gardens.
Snr Sgt Fookes warned people not to underestimate the effects
and consequences of synthetic legalised highs.
Some people believed that because the highs were legal, they
were harmless, he said.
''It's been our experience some of those products create
bizarre behaviour, including violent behaviour in some
people. And, do not mix alcohol with anything else.''
Wakatipu roads are busier in summer and used by drivers of
many nationalities with differing levels of experience.
''Patience is key, give yourself plenty of time to get where
you're going and try to avoid getting too frustrated by the
actions of other road users,'' he said.
''That said, we strongly encourage people to ring us on *555
if they see driving that is likely to present a danger to
other road users.
"The early intervention with drivers who are behaving in that
manner is definitely a good thing to do to prevent road
Trampers, climbers and hunters will venture out into the
back-country in droves this summer and could become injured
or lost, prompting costly search-and-rescue operations.
Snr Sgt Fookes said the messages from police were: go
well-equipped, do not leave valuables in vehicles, check the
weather forecast and factor how it will affect the planned
route, and leave detailed intentions with someone
trustworthy, including a due-out date and, if applicable, a
''We'd strongly encourage taking a personal locator beacon
because if you do strike trouble then you're very easy to
find, and taking a GPS (global positioning system) and
knowing how to use it,'' he said.
Plenty of people will be using the waterways and police asked
that people enjoy the lakes and rivers responsibly by wearing
life jackets, checking equipment before sailing and being
considerate of other users.