Drunk Aussies test Queenstown
Sun, 19 Aug 2012 6:05p.m.
By Leanne Malcolm
Trans-Tasman relations in Queenstown are being sorely tested thanks to a string of media reports suggesting drunken Aussies are out of control in the resort.
The articles quoted one officer saying the recurrence of high intoxication among Australian tourists was wearing thin.
But, now police say the number of arrests of Australians is probably high because they make up a huge proportion of tourists in the ski town.
There were hundreds on the streets of Queenstown last night for the Bledisloe Cup match.
It's an intoxicating combination – Australians in a mood to party in a town that never lets them down.
One-third of Queenstown’s annual international visitors are from across the ditch. In winter, that percentage soars and their total daily spend is much higher than anyone else.
Tourist operators love them. But lately they're getting a bad rap for big drinking.
“A lot of Queenstown's problems are alcohol related and most of the arrests of the last few weeks are Australian or other nationalities and have been for alcohol disorder, ranging from low level fights, minor assault and offensive behaviour, which thankfully are not too much to deal with,” says acting sergeant Phil Hamlin.
Over the past six weeks, Queenstown police have dealt with dozens of intoxicated Australians, but they don't want to single out one nationality as troublemakers.
Indeed, a disturbance in a dark side-alley overnight involved New Zealanders, not Aussies, and it was quickly shut down.
“Maybe there are just too many Aussies in one town,” says Mr Hamlin. “I don't know.”
“Australians are wild and we are meant to be wild,” says one Aussie reveller. “We are born young, wild and free.”
The most serious incident recently involved police firing pepper spray to break up a nasty brawl.
“He was quite an angry chap,” says Mr Hamlin. “He had already damaged property and assaults with bouncers and what have you, and was making things pretty difficult for all involved.”
Then there was a bizarre episode when a boozed 33-year-old refused to leave a burger joint and went to a next door baker where he ate another patron's pie.
“With there being so many in town, that's the reason we are seeing a few more coming thru the books,” says the acting sergeant.”
In most New Zealand towns, drunken behaviour is typical to a Friday or Saturday only, but in Queenstown it’s seven nights a week, and you can see why police are over it.
Their message to all nationalities is: take a look at how much you're drinking and don't put yourself in situations you can't handle.
“Everyone is in good spirits and we love it,” says Mr Hamlin. “If people are going to come here and enjoy Queenstown and ski, have some fun, have some drinks. We are all for it as long as they stay in the bounds of the law.”
It's a message Kiwi visitors could also heed.
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20/08/2012 2:58:59 a.m.
Funny how certain MPs focus on cigarette consumption, yet the damage alcohol producers create seems to be ignored, with no brewery held to account. Any trip to Australia or Europe shows more than enough loud, obnoxious New Zealanders though!
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