Thousands set to descend on waterfront

HANNAH MCLEOD AND LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 31/12/2013

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Tens of thousands of people will party the night away throughout the region tonight, with thousands expected to descend on Queenstown's waterfront for New Year's Eve celebrations.

Summerdaze spokeswoman Nicole Fairweather said the annual event attracted crowds of about 10,000 people to the Queenstown waterfront, and about 5000 people to the lakeside in Wanaka.

Preparations were all going to plan, with infrastructure being set up today. Several bands would be playing at each event, with fireworks set off at midnight.

Queenstown police were also gearing up for a big night tonight.

Otago rural acting area commander Inspector Andrew Burns said like every year, extra police would be on hand to help deal with the massive influx of people to the town and many would stay for the rest of the week, with several events in Queenstown during the next couple of days.

With a one-day cricket match tomorrow between the Black Caps and West Indies in the town and the Glenorchy Races on Sunday, it was likely to be a busy week for the police in the region, Burns said.

"We are hoping people are here to have a good time and head away. We don't want to see anyone through the cells."

In Te Anau, New Year's Eve celebrations will be held in the form of a bonfire, band and fireworks display organised by the Fiordland Rotary Club.

There is no dedicated public New Year's Eve party in Invercargill, Riverton or Gore tonight.

Police will be out in force in Wanaka, with extra staff brought to the region for the thousands of people expected in town.

Sergeant Simon Paget, of Cromwell, was in Wanaka yesterday overseeing festival-goers at the Rhythm and Alps music festival, which 5000 people are expected to attend.

"This is one of the most well-behaved groups I've seen," he said.

"As normal, we have a New Year policing operation, which will include the Central Otago rural drink-driving team as well as general policing which we do every year, but we also have the Rhythm and Alps operation."

Acting Senior Sergeant Dave Kennelly, of Invercargill, said they would be "policing as per usual," visiting establishments that sold alcohol and making sure everyone stayed safe.

Acting Sergeant James Ure, of Te Anau, said "the feel of the town is really good" heading into new year celebrations.

Five staff from Invercargill had joined Te Anau police for the busy New Year period.

"We will be establishing some road checkpoints for drink-driving," Ure said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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