South Island revellers see in 2002 in good spirits
The South Island greeted the New Year with good spirits and generally trouble-free celebrations.
Police around the island's popular holiday spots report the crowds enjoyed the fine weather and were generally well-behaved. Liquor bans in public places in Nelson, Christchurch, Wanaka, and Queenstown all proved successful.
Christchurch police reported a steady but unspectacular night of celebrations in the city. Ten arrests were made from 7pm to 2am, most for minor disorder offences.
"It's not uncommon to have 10 arrests made on a Friday night, so I would say that number is lower than normal," Sergeant Roy Appley, of the police southern communications centre, said.
A mild evening drew several thousand enthusiastic revellers to a traffic-free Cathedral Square for a special New Year's Eve concert featuring local acts Stout Fellows and Unlimited Speed Zone. The crowd were buoyed by the the mild evening conditions, and mostly obeyed a liquor ban.
"It's been a fantastic night and everyone's been really mellow," event co-ordinator Gene O'Connell said.
Acting District Commander Inspector Stu Leighton said he was pleased to see so many people using late-night bus services and taxis to get around the city. In Nelson, police arrested 47 people throughout the region for mostly minor offences including breach of the peace, breach of a liquor ban, and other disorder-type offences. Although the number arrested was up on last year's total, most arrests were described by police as preventative.
A constable on patrol in the Nelson inner city just after midnight said his night's work had turned out "to be a breeze" thanks to the co-operation police had received from hotel and club staff, who stopped clientele taking glassware out onto the street. Nelson Bays police controller Inspector Jim Wilson said the liquor ban had made a huge difference and people had enjoyed themselves because of it.
A much smaller than usual crowd of up to 6000 danced and tranced the New Year in at the Gathering dance party near Upper Takaka.
"It was a good night on site," Gathering marketing manager Danny O'Donnell. "No stress. No troubles. Everyone was pretty happy."
The St John's ambulance service took a 22-year-old Palmerston North man to hospital with burns to his left hand, and a 29-year-old Christchurch woman was evacuated with a broken ankle. Organisers put last night's crowd at between 5000 and 6000 people, about half the number who attended last year.
At the traditional hotspot Wanaka, 22 arrests were made, but police say the celebrations were the "quietest in years".
"Most of those arrests were for breach of the liquor ban on the foreshore, but there is usually double that number," acting Queenstown officer Sergeant Kevin Davidson said. An estimated 7000 to 10,000 turned out for celebrations on the foreshore of Lake Wanaka, but Mr Davidson said police and local authorities had put in a lot of planning to ensure celebrations were kept under control.
In Akaroa, police made just one arrest for excessive drunkenness. Revellers enjoyed the first dry night in three years. Senior Sergeant Lyle Pryor, of the Akaroa police, said thousands gathered at the recreation ground and the live entertainment was well received.
Caption: PHOTO: RACHEL SIMPSON Happy New Year Christchurch: Nelsonians Amy Donovan and James Rogers, centre, were among the thousands of revellers who saw in the New Year in Cathedral Square.