Covid puts kibosh on big-bash Gibbston concert

The long-running Gibbston Valley Winery rock concert's been canned this summer.
The long-running Gibbston Valley Winery rock concert's been canned this summer.
Thousands of music fans will not be rocking to the sounds of famous international acts in Queenstown this summer.

The annual Gibbston Valley Winery summer tour concert, already postponed from this month until March 26, has been cancelled ‘‘with much regret’’, along with gigs in Taupo and the Coromandel.

Promoter Greenstone Entertainment had signed up ‘‘a fabulous international line-up’’ some time ago, but chief executive Amanda Calvert said with current Covid-19 border restrictions, and the uncertainty surrounding the highly transmissible Omicron variant, ‘‘our international artists are not willing to spend 10 days in a managed quarantine facility’’.

It had been hoped by March there would be some form of home quarantine, which would have been acceptable to the artists, but those hopes had been dashed.

Ms Calvert’s husband, operations manager Dean Calvert, said they had also organised a ‘‘bespoke hotel complex’’ that still met health standards, but they could not get that approved.

Battling Covid-19 restrictions a year ago, the organisers hosted mainly Kiwi artists, but did bring over Australian band Dragon and, from the United States, New Zealander Gin Wigmore.

However, the crowd was down to about 8000 from 18,000 the year before, which featured Billy Idol, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Anastacia, Smash Mouth and Creedence Clearwater Revisited.

Mr Calvert said they now hoped to announce in about March ‘‘a massive line-up’’ for next year’s concert on February 11.

She said there had been ‘‘huge anticipation and enthusiasm’’ from fans to find out more about this year’s concert tour, and they were saddened to have to make the announcement.

‘‘We understand our loyal customers will be disappointed, and we value [their] support.

‘‘We always strive to deliver outstanding, quality events and great live music, but unfortunately this year that was simply not going to be possible.

‘‘We recognise the importance of the summer concert tour to the regions in which it visits, with over 50,000 people attending the three shows annually - not only from the millions of dollars of economic benefit it generates each year, but also the hundreds of local staff and suppliers we’re able to engage and support, and the many local groups and charities who rely on this event for fundraising.

‘‘With the current border restrictions in place for international tourists, this year would have been more important than ever for driving domestic tourism to the region.’’

In 2020, for example, it was estimated 16,000 of the crowd of 18,000 came from outside the area, she said.

Mr Calvert said its crowd demographic spent two or three days in the Wakatipu and had high disposable income.

They had also drawn up a ‘Plan B’: ‘‘We tried to pull together a really big band here that hasn’t toured since the 1990s, but in the end that just became too challenging with some of the band members overseas, and what have you.’’

The cancellation of this year’s tour would cost his company more than $300,000.

‘‘But we’ve had 11 good years of this so we’re in a position to come back strong, hopefully, in 2023.’’