Queenstown’s growing problem: Misbehaving drunk tourists


Police, judges and the local mayor say they have had a “gutsful” of overseas tourists behaving badly in Queenstown.

Visitors to New Zealand’s “jewel in the crown” were clogging up the court system with alcohol and drug-related charges, a district judge said this week.

Dealing on Tuesday with a Canadian man charged with assault and theft, Judge Paul Kellar told the man he was part of a greater problem in Queenstown, the Southland Times reported.

“Regrettably you are one of many people who visit this part of the country, drink to excess and engage in acts of violence,” he said.

Yesterday, when considering a South African man’s application for a discharge without conviction on a drug-dealing charge, Judge Kellar said every time he sat in Queenstown there were overseas tourists who appeared on drug charges. He convicted the man, despite the fact he would likely be deported, along with his family.

Other judges have been critical of the volume of alcohol-related convictions in Queenstown.

In September, Judge Kevin Phillips said he would start imposing heavier sentences on drink-drivers in the region because the frequency of the offending had reached “epidemic proportions”.

In October 2008, Judge Michael Crosbie said Queenstown’s culture of early morning drunken violence had to stop.

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Clive Geddes said visitors needed to realise it was a privilege to live and work in the resort town.

The Queenstown community had “had an absolute gutsful” of offending by overseas visitors, especially alcohol-related violence, and this feeling had intensified in the past two or three years, he said.

Otago rural area police commander Mike Cook said the impact of the misuse of alcohol on Queenstown was “an issue”, whether it was visitors or residents involved.