Crackdown on Botanic Garden booze sessions

Alan Matchett
Alan Matchett
Dunedin's Botanic Garden should be a place to savour the wafting scent of rhododendrons - not the aroma of urine and vomit, Dunedin City Council staff say.

However, it is the less desirable smells - together with a mix of rubbish and broken glass - that has prompted a crackdown by council staff sick of interrupting student drinking sessions inside the garden.

Council gardens and cemeteries team leader Alan Matchett said there had been a noticeable increase in the number of intoxicated people - believed to be mainly students - using the botanic garden as a garden bar this year, particularly since the arrival of fine spring weather.

That included a group of 48 people intercepted by security guards while setting up for "a bit of a party" in the lower garden on Monday, he said.

Another group was discovered drinking in the rock garden on Tuesday, Mr Matchett said.

Earlier this year, a group of students was intercepted while carrying three kegs of beer into the central garden "obviously trying to settle in for a fairly big session", he said.

Staff wanted to welcome everyone to the garden, but groups of drinkers were creating a disorderly atmosphere that discouraged other visitors and left behind a trail of rubbish, urine, vomit and damaged items, he said.

Staff setting up for the annual Rhododendron Day Garden Festival on October 17 had arrived to find someone had attempted to dismantle a marquee, as well as ripping up rhododendrons and leaving rubbish strewn around, he said.

"A lot of people enjoy themselves here and enjoy the garden, but it's just when you get things like this happen it spoils other people's enjoyment of it as well.

"We're happy for everyone to be here - they've just got to leave their drink at home."

Council staff were also in contact with the University of Otago Proctor's Office and Campus Watch staff, and would increase council security patrols around the garden, beginning with Guy Fawkes night tomorrow.

"People trying to light fireworks off ... is a bit of a problem, and it's now just drying out enough to be a fire hazard around the place as well."

The new $350,000 Mediterranean garden - due to be opened next month - would also be closely watched to avoid trouble in the area, he said.

A DCC spokesman said there was no liquor ban in the Botanic Garden.


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