Dating jolt for single males

Women in Christchurch can breathe a sigh of relief - the long- lasting man drought is over. But finding a match is still proving tricky, both sexes say.

Hundreds of men, from New Zealand and overseas, are pouring into the region to work on the rebuild but, instead of being embraced by the ladies, they often find themselves standing alone at a bar surrounded by other males.

A simple night out in Christchurch highlights the gender imbalance and men outnumber women by about four to one in local drinking holes.

Irish painter and decorator Damien O'Kane admits to "struggling with the native ladies". "First of all . . . wherever you go there's always more men. Sometimes it's like a sausage fest and I find Christchurch girls a bit scary, to be honest."

O'Kane was "actively looking for a girlfriend" but felt the local lasses "weren't big fans of the Irish".

The 28-year-old often enjoyed a couple of drinks with friends at The Craic bar in Riccarton but said women seemed to go out earlier than men, go home earlier, or not go out at all.

O'Kane's friend David Waddell, an architect who hails from Scotland, said he had hooked up with three girls in his time in Christchurch. Two were from the UK and the other was a local, he said. "I wouldn't say it's too hard to meet girls . . . .but there does seem to be more men than women in this town."

On a Thursday night at container bar Revival, in the central city, there were seven women and about 30 men.

Local woman Emily Hume, 25, said everywhere she went there seemed to be a 60-40 split towards men. "Everywhere is full of guys but there isn't anything useful usually . . . and it's definitely been more noticeable since the earthquakes."

Even two Australian mountaineers were shocked by the lack of women.

"It's not what we expected . . . I think it's interrupted our plans for the night," Heath Wallace said.

Bar owner and operator Sam Heaps said staff noticed the imbalance, particularly later at night. "We all heard about the so-called man drought but I would definitely say that is over.

"But by the time the guys have had a couple of drinks and plucked up the courage to talk to a girl they've all gone."

The Fox and Ferret in Riccarton was overrun by young men and the sexes seemed segregated.

Site foreman James Brailey, 23, said he had noticed a "huge amount of Irish people and Czechs" since the February 2011 earthquake. He was happy to see "attractive young women starting trade jobs" but said work relationships were not a good idea.

"There's definitely more men around . . . and I'm glad to hear it's not just me who thinks that."

Brailey's friend Harry Taffs said finding a girlfriend was more difficult "because Christchurch girls can afford to be picky now".

Manager for online dating site FindSomeone, Rick Davies, said there had been a "dramatic increase" in the number of new registrations from men in Canterbury.

The region also had one of the largest gender imbalances on the site in the country, with 60 per cent males and 40 per cent females.

Christchurch Senior Sergeant Murray Hurst said police had noticed more men from overseas getting arrested.

"We very rarely arrested guys from overseas [before the earthquakes] . . . but now we have a lot more people who are working and living here and we've noticed more accents too." Arrests were usually for disorderly behaviour or intoxication.

Canterbury University Professor Lucy Johnston said if male workers had moved to Christchurch with their partners or families the gender imbalance would not be so noticeable. "Young men are known for higher incidence of drinking and risky behaviours so we may see increases there. [We might] also see increases in sexual transmitted diseases."

Sunday Star Times