Avoid road to Gathering motorists told

Nelson Mail, 29 December 2000

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Motorists not heading to the Gathering dance party should stay off the road to Golden Bay from tomorrow morning to Sunday afternoon to avoid expected traffic jams, Takaka police say.

More than 10,000 people are expected to converge on Takaka from all over the country tomorrow and Sunday for the 72-hour New Year's Eve event.

Gates to the Upper Takaka dance party open at midday tomorrow. The event kicks off at midday on Sunday and ends on January 3.

Sergeant Arthur Clarence said he hoped there would not be any of the traffic problems that occurred at last year's event held at a different site at Canaan Downs on top of Takaka Hill.

However, he said traffic would be heavy and motorists not going to the Gathering would be better staying off the road until after the event started.

The main problem area would be at the turn-off to the Gathering from State Highway 60 to Cobb Valley Rd, as Gathering organisers search all vehicles for alcohol before allowing them into the non- alcohol event.

The searches created havoc for motorists last year as waiting vehicles spilled out on to Takaka Hill Rd blocking the highway for freight trucks, locals and other holiday-makers.

Mr Clarence expected fewer problems this year because waiting vehicles could be diverted off the main highway to nearby paddocks and searched there.

A police traffic officer would be monitoring traffic between Takaka Hill and Takaka township during the event.

Six police would also be stationed in Takaka over the holiday period to help cope with the influx of revellers.

As with previous years, there will be no police presence at the Gathering.

Mr Clarence said the organisers employed about 150 security guards to patrol the event and he was happy with the situation.

He was pleased with the new site, about 2km from the main highway, because it would be easier for emergency services to reach than the previous site, 10km from the main highway on a dirt road.

Mariam El Orfi, Nelson Mail, 29 December 2000

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