Thousands head for New Year hotspots

By Esther Goh, Vaimoana Tapaleao

New Years Eve revellers at Mount Maunganui in 2008. Photo / Sarah Ivey
New Years Eve revellers at Mount Maunganui in 2008. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Thousands of people - including at least one musical superstar - are heading for Gisborne, and other holiday hotspots are filling fast, as New Zealanders prepare to celebrate the New Year.

A steady stream of revellers was making its way into the annual Rhythm and Vines festival, just north of Gisborne, yesterday afternoon.

The festival, in its seventh year, opened its gates at 3pm at Waiohika Estate and a growing crowd was last night making the most of the thumping beats.

The line-up includes New York electronic music pioneer Moby, who was looking forward to playing in New Zealand, even if he had a few reservations.

"I've never played a festival in New Zealand. It could either be a great show, or it could be me on stage pouring my heart out to an egregiously disinterested audience. I have no idea."

Festival founder and programme director Hamish Pinkham said more than 18,000 people were expected over the next two days.

More than 80 sets will be played by artists including P Money, Empire of the Sun and 2manydj's.

Mr Pinkham said more than 1000 staff were expecting a fantastic festival.

"There's a lot more of a community feel this year," he said.

"We had a council meeting last week, a bit of a working party from the mayor to local business people, there's free buses from around Gisborne and maps out there encouraging people to explore the region."

A 20m water slide for those wanting to cool down in the hot weather has been set up, and by 5pm yesterday teenagers were cruising down the slides - naked.

More than 100 media outlets are covering the event, including the BBC.

Further north at the Waihi Beach Hotel - where veteran musician Dave Dobbyn and newcomer Gin Wigmore are to perform on New Year's Eve - staff said the place was "flat out".

Senior Sergeant Rex Knight of the Waihi police said Waihi Beach tended to be a family-oriented area and although 1200 people had attended the Feelers' concert on Monday, no arrests had been made.

He said a round-the-clock liquor ban - introduced on December 5 - might "generate a little bit of work, but otherwise it's policing as normal".

In the Wairarapa, the hustle and bustle had started as hundreds of holidaymakers headed to well-known holiday favourites like Greytown, where hundreds of revellers are expected to see in the New Year.

A staff member at The White Swan Hotel said many guests were from Wellington or in and around the Wairarapa area, with many local families treating themselves.

"It really is bustling in here. Our accommodation is fully booked and we've got the big New Year's Eve party so that'll bring more people down."

At the Raglan Harbour View Hotel, staff reported being "super busy" despite being a small accommodation facility.

"Raglan is a popular place. Most of the accommodation places around town [are] booked out," a staff member said.

A large influx of holidaymakers had arrived in town in the past four days, she said, as people began settling in for the New Year celebrations.

"We're really busy and I know it's like that in other [accommodation] places."

Police are urging partygoers across the country to be security-conscious and considerate of others this New Year's Eve.

Raglan's Sergeant Rob Pierce said the holiday influx had seen the town's population triple, but everyone had so far been well behaved.

An extra 25 staff were coming in from around the Waikato to assist local police, but Mr Pierce did not expect many arrests. He said the weather could put a damper on celebrations, but encouraged people to make sure their properties were secure these holidays.

"Make sure your vehicle, campsite and houses are locked up and that valuables kept out ofsight."

In Queenstown, Senior Sergeant John Fookes said that visitor numbers were slightly lower than usual.

- NZ Herald

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