Wanaka NYE adjusted to curb underage drinking

Sgt Miriam Reddington. Photo: ODT files
Sgt Miriam Reddington. Photo: ODT files
Changes are on the way for Wanaka's New Year's Eve celebrations in an attempt to reduce the amount of underage drinking in the town.

Last summer, dozens of underage drinkers were caught in Wanaka over the New Year period which Queenstown Lakes District Council officers and police attributed to the lack of entertainment and space for them to enjoy.

Now, changes have been made to combat those issues.

Council spokeswoman Lu Morris said a DJ stage would be set up on lower Helwick St facing the lake and would showcase a range of well-known local DJs between 9pm and 1am on New Year's Eve.

"The placement of this new DJ stage is part of a three-year trial to encourage and engage the youth away from the main bars and Ardmore St.

"This position may shift depending on how the trial goes."

Additional security would also be present, while Red Frogs would be on hand in central Wanaka from December 29 through to the New Year.

Deputy Mayor Calum MacLeod said the changes were "good" but "not there yet" to where they needed to be.

"I still think it's a bit too close to the bars. "We need to make it as cool as possible to get away from the last legal drug."

Sergeant Miriam Reddington, of Wanaka, believed the move to install a second stage was a good one.

"I think council are doing an excellent job at trying to engage a cross-section of the community and whatever they can do to engage our youth is a good thing.

"I think it's fantastic that they're doing that."

Last summer Wanaka police started an initiative where they offered underage drinking offenders the chance to write an essay about the effects of alcohol on the teenage brain rather than pay a hefty fine, and Sgt Reddington said that was set to continue.

She said additional staff were coming in from out of town to help manage the influx of visitors over the New Year period and the station would be operating 24 hours a day until early January.

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