Police to be out in force

The Burns cannon marks a previous New Year's Eve in the Octagon. Photo by Craig Baxter.
The Burns cannon marks a previous New Year's Eve in the Octagon. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Widespread liquor bans, coupled with a large visible police presence, are intended to allow tens of thousands of New Year's Eve revellers to enjoy festivities safely across Otago on Monday night.

Up to 50 police officers will be patrolling the Wakatipu area on New Year's Eve, when the area's population is expected to double from 46,000 residents and visitors a day, to 90,000 over the peak holiday period.

The resort's new $150,000 digital closed-circuit television system will also be operating around the CBD.

Up to 20,000 people are expected to converge on the Octagon in Dunedin to watch the live entertainment, which will conclude with a $10,000 fireworks display from the Civic Centre roof.

The seven-minute display will follow the firing of the Robbie Burns cannon at midnight.

Organiser Marilyn Anderson said the event would be a family-orientated affair, and those who wanted to drink would be ''encouraged to go to a licensed premises and leave that drink behind when they leave the bar''.

The lower Octagon will be closed from 7am on Monday to allow bars to extend their areas. Security guards will enforce the city's liquor-ban area.

The upper Octagon and central carriageway will be closed from 3pm, and taxis will operate from upper Stuart St.

Dunedin police operations and planning manager Senior Sergeant Gavin Briggs said an extra 20 police had been rostered for New Year's Eve festivities, with staff largely focused on the Octagon and wider liquor ban area.

As well, 35 Dunedin staff are heading to Wanaka, and 24 extra staff are going to Queenstown.

Police from Invercargill will be supplementing resort staff.

In addition, Dunedin staff are joining those at the Alexandra, Cromwell and Ranfurly stations, Snr Sgt Briggs said.

Party-goers should look after their mates, stay safe and have a good time, but be aware of increased police patrols and a particular focus on breath-testing drivers, he said. New Year's Eve in Wanaka will feature waterfront celebrations from 8pm with live music and a fireworks display. The Lake Hawea Hotel will hold a family music carnival and barbecue from 4pm and the Albert Town Tavern is hosting a locals' night.

Wanaka sub-area commander Senior Sergeant Allan Grindell said a public order team and two extra general duties staff would be be working over the next few days, while a night-shift team would give the regular Wanaka police staff ''the capacity to go 24/7''.

''If you look around that 24-hour period there will be close to 50 staff working here,'' Snr Sgt Grindell said.

The number of New Year's Eve police reinforcements was considerably less than what was required in Wanaka five or six years ago.

He believed the reduction was largely because of police's improved relationship with local licensed premises, working more closely with camping grounds and the introduction of the 24/7 liquor ban in town, which gave police ''another tool'' to crack down on young people's bad behaviour.

''It's changed the impression of Wanaka. We've got it away from being a party town. We're trying to make it a family place.''

Queenstown revellers are expected to converge on the CBD and Earnslaw Park for the traditional New Year's Eve celebrations - including live entertainment and a fireworks display over Lake Wakatipu at midnight.

The free party begins at 7pm. Road closures from 5pm on Monday until 2am on Tuesday will affect parts of the Queenstown CBD.

A 24-hour liquor ban will be in place in Queenstown, Arrowtown and Wanaka. It will cover the Queenstown CBD, including the Lake Wakatipu foreshore, the Frankton foreshore, Bridge St, Boyes Cres, McBride St and Lake Ave, as well as parts of Arrowtown.

More than 1000 New Year's Eve revellers are expected to gather in Clyde's historic precinct for the annual street party.

In addition to live entertainment, a bagpiper will play the traditional Auld Lang Syne at midnight.

In Naseby, about 500 people are expected to celebrate New Year's Eve.

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