Welcoming 2019

Revellers welcomed 2019 at the South Island’s biggest New Year’s Eve party, Rhythm & Alps, on Monday, December 31. | Photo: Alexander Hallag

Signing out for 2018 seemed to go smoothly across the Upper Clutha as the weather played nice and people, for the most part, played by the rules.

The sheer number of people in town was made evident not just in the queues at New World, but out on the streets as the clock was heading towards midnight. From the Albert Town campground through to the town centre were hundreds of (rather drunk) people either walking or trying to hitch a ride to the party. Police booze buses were located in two prime spots although police were happy to report that only two arrests were made for disorder incidents and there “were no significant issues or incidents reported to Police at these celebrations”.

Police had a strong presence on the roads as well as in town and were controlling the free entertainment area which was designed to be alcohol-free and family friendly.

Down at the lakefront, Queenstown Lakes District Council put on a free concert and fireworks which was attended by an estimated 5000 people. The placement of a new DJ stage is part of a three-year trial to encourage and engage the youth away from the main bars and Ardmore Street. One partygoer observed at 10.30pm, “It was a pretty good atmosphere then. Young kids (the under 12s with parents) were still around and having fun dancing, but I could already see a few drunk teenagers. They were behaving okay, just not that coherent or steady on their feet.”

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; Police have yet to confirm how many essay punishments were handed out this year.
St John Ambulance had nine callouts in Wanaka between 10pm on New Year's Eve and 3am on New Year's Day.

Up in Cardrona Valley at Robrosa Station, about 10,000 people greeted the new year at the South Island's biggest New Year's party. Festival organiser Alex Turnbull said he was pleased with the way the event ran, with no arrests and no other major issues.
Whilst national media had reported that festival goers were using drugs laced with pesticide and industrial paint, they had used footage from Rhythm and Alps, rather than their northern sister event Rhythm and Vines. This caused some confusion as the drug incident was reported in Gisborne.

In Lake Hawea, iHeartRadio’s Top Paddock Music Festival welcomed 1000 country music fans, with event creator Jody Direen raving about the crowd’s passion and energy. Direen also took to the main stage on the night with her signature high energy, upbeat performance.

 


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