UK tourists (from left) Paul Larrett and Bill and Diane
Petzold, pictured at Wanaka's Speight's Ale House
yesterday, were surprised by New Zealand's liquor laws,
which restrict people from drinking on Good Friday unless
dining. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
If inspectors from the Ministry for Business, Innovation
and Employment were in Wanaka yesterday, almost every retailer
in the resort will face fines for breaching Easter trading
The threat of a $1000 penalty was not enough to deter the
vast majority of Wanaka businesses from breaching the Shop
Trading Hours Act Repeal Act 1990, which restricts most shops
from opening on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Many retailers said they could not afford to be closed,
particularly with the Warbirds Over Wanaka airshow event
bringing tens of thousands of extra visitors to town.
''It's one of the busiest weekends of the year and we need
it,'' Soul Clothing owner Sally Gordon said.
''The quiet times are too quiet so we need to rely on this
busy period ... people that come to town expect to be able to
go shopping, go out for dinner, go for drinks. We're a
Outside Sports Wanaka store manager Darren Grimmett said it
was ''ridiculous'' stores in the resort were supposed to
''Especially with so many visitors. It wouldn't be a great
example for the town if everyone was shut.''
Cakes of Wanaka owner Clare Pennell said it had been
''totally worth it'' opening yesterday, and there had been a
steady stream of foot traffic through her lakefront store.
Providing a service for the influx of visitors was Hamills
Wanaka store owner Mark Sanders' reason for being open.
''It would be very disappointing to see the town like a ghost
town when there's 30,000-plus people walking the streets with
nowhere to go,'' he said.
Wanaka bars had more incentive to stick to the rules, as the
Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act provides far heftier penalties
The Act prevents the sale of liquor to anyone on Good Friday
and Easter Sunday unless they are dining and any breach can
result in suspension or cancellation of the on-licence and
general manager's certificate or a fine of up to $20,000.
''It's way too big a deal for us,'' Water Bar manager Elaine
Quo Vadis said.
Kai Whakapai Cafe and Bar staff member Claire Stirling said
many customers were baffled as to why they could not get a
drink without dining in Wanaka but they could in Queenstown,
which has an exemption to the trading restrictions.
''They just can't understand why it would be any different.''
Several bars reported potential patrons walking out because
they were not prepared to pay for a meal just to get a drink.
At Wanaka's Speight's Ale House, UK tourists Paul Larrett and
his parents Bill and Diane Petzold were surprised by New
Zealand's alcohol laws.
''We don't have the same thing in the UK,'' Mrs Petzold said,
as the trio finished off their nachos and a round of drinks.
''It's a surprise and we don't think it's right, but then,
that's coming from a country that doesn't have it. It's just
Eight Wanaka bars had applications for special licences
denied earlier this month.
Exemptions from shop trading restrictions apply to certain
types of shops, including pharmacies, duty-free stores,
service stations and real estate agencies.
Cafes, bars and restaurants are allowed to open as long as
they sell only prepared or cooked food that is ready to be
Also exempt are a limited number of other retailers in
locations covered by area exemptions issued by the former
Shop Trading Hours Commission, under the previous law, the
Shop Trading Hours Act 1977.
''Ones that were in place at the time [of the new Act] still
remain,'' a spokeswoman for the Ministry for Business,
Innovation and Employment said.
That included nine shops in Wanaka's Pembroke Mall which were
issued exemptions in June 1982.
The spokeswoman would not disclose the enforcement approach
being used by the ministry's inspectors over Easter.
Last Easter there were just two prosecutions nationwide for
breaching the law. Neither of those were in Wanaka.