It should have been the busiest day of the year for the small
specialty cake shop in Queenstown.
Instead, St Valentine's Day was spent cleaning up after a
flood allegedly caused by two guests at the backpackers
upstairs swinging on a pipe which then burst.
The total repair bill for the affected businesses could add
up to six figures, Senior Constable Chris Blackford, of
He said the incident started about 4am when a 25-year-old man
and 23-year-old woman, both from the United Kingdom, returned
to Nomads on Church St, after making the most of what they
thought was to be their last night in the resort.
The intoxicated pair danced on the tables near the guest
kitchen before allegedly swinging on a sprinkler pipe,
causing it to burst.
The incident triggered the fire alarm, to which the
Queenstown Volunteer Fire Brigade responded.
Cup and Cake owner Jaimie Stodler arrived at work at 4.45am
ready to start baking cupcakes for Valentine's Day and was
confronted by water gushing from her shop, which is below
''It sounded like rain inside,'' Ms Stodler said.
''Instead of spending the day making people happy, we are
spending the day cleaning up.''
By mid-morning she had already turned away about 100
Income from yesterday ''would have been in the thousands'',
as Valentine's Day was huge ''for a little shop like us''.
Below Zero Ice Bar, downstairs from Nomads, was also damaged
by the flood, general manger Philip Nestor said.
The water which rained down melted the ice sculptures and the
ice bar, which is likely to need replacing as it will become
unstable. This will mean getting blocks of ice specially made
in Auckland and bringing down an ice carver, also from
''It's a major expense.''
When Mr Nestor arrived at the business in Searle Lane he had
to ''crack away the ice on the floor'' of the bar, as it was
''like an ice rink'', making it hazardous.
Valentine's Day is a profitable day for the bar, but because
of the damage it was forced to open later than usual.
Nomads general manager Dre Broughton said the entire
backpackers, with its 383 guests, had to be evacuated because
of the alarm, and staff who were not meant to start until
later in the day had to be called in earlier to help clean up
before commercial cleaners finished the job.
''It's not just us [who suffered damage],'' Mr Broughton
''It's a very silly, drunken mistake. We kicked them out
About five rooms at the backpackers were affected and it only
suffered minimal flooding, as it was mainly Nomads' common
area which bore the brunt and this was cleaned up quickly.
Devil Burger also trades downstairs from Nomads and while it
usually opens at 10am, yesterday it opened at 2.30pm because
of the flood.
Part-owner Craig Robinson said an eftpos machine worth about
$1000 was damaged but other than that ''we were lucky''.
Mr Robinson gained access to the premises at 6am and Nomads
sent three men to help him clean up.
Snr Const Blackford said the alleged offenders were arrested
and charged with wilful damage and were expected to appear in
the Queenstown District Court at a later date.
They had planned to fly out to Australia yesterday but their
passports were seized as a condition of their bail. One of
the pair was working at the hostel in lieu of some
accommodation costs. He said police would be seeking
reparation on behalf of the victims.
''The damage will run into many thousands of dollars.''