13 Dec 2016

Queenstown booked out for 'crazy' NYE

8:54 am on 13 December 2016

It is shaping up to be the busiest New Year yet for Queenstown.

Queenstown gondola

Queenstown restaurateurs and accommodation providers say they are booked out for New Year's. Photo: RNZ / Peter Newport

Campgrounds and restaurants are already fully booked, while police are preparing to deal with large numbers of drinking revellers.

Every year thousands of visitors flock to Queenstown and Wanaka to celebrate Christmas and New Year.

Locals say this year the busy season started ramping up in November and has not let up.

Flights into Queenstown Airport between November and next February have increased 15 percent on last year.

Queenstown's Public Kitchen manager David Dwyer said the restaurant took New Year's Eve bookings for the first time this year.

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The calm before the storm. About 15,000 partygoers are expected on Queenstown's waterfront on New Year's Eve. Photo: 123rf.com

"Last year we never took any bookings and this year we decided to take a few. We opened the books and all hell broke loose.

"Pretty much booked out and overbooked, it's going to be a crazy night."

Queenstown Top 10 Holiday park manager Lizzie Forbes said they were fully booked for the holiday period, but that would not stop up to 20 vanloads turning up on the day expecting a spot.

Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park is fully booked for New Year. Receptionist Natalie Ward said people booked up to a year ahead.

Tickets were selling out for one of the Rhythm and Alps music festival, held every year in Cardrona Valley.

Director Alex Turnbull said organisers put a 7000 ticket cap on the event so it did not grow out of control.

"We made a mistake in 2013 where we probably oversold it. We went to the 10,000 cap and that extra 3000 people in the campground wasn't great ... We learned from that."

Up to 15,000 partygoers are expected to flock to Queenstown's waterfront for New Year's Eve. Wanaka expects up to 7000.

The district council would bring in extra cleaning staff and guides to educate people about the 24-hour liquor ban in the district's hotspots from 27 December to 6 January.

Queenstown Lakes Central Commander Inspector Olaf Jensen said there would be more police on duty.

"We don't want to make arrests. Over the last few years our numbers that we've arrested have reduced and that's something that we want to keep looking at."

He said police would try to intervene early where they saw a drunk person who could get into trouble.

Police would check for drinking or speeding drivers. Anyone breaking 100kmh speed limits could expect to be stopped, he said.

The NZ Transport Agency recommended drivers checked its website before starting a journey to view traffic cameras updates from throughout the district.

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