Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

A walk on the ugly side of Queen Street

Drunkenness, violence and profanity ... Queen Street has gained a dark reputation for early hours debauchery. Nicholas Jones ventured out to find out how bad it is.

A girl rubs a man's back while he vomits. Photo / Dean Purcell
A girl rubs a man's back while he vomits. Photo / Dean Purcell

It took nearly two hours walking along Auckland's Queen St early on Sunday morning before I found a source for some of the streams of wet crossing the pavements.

A man was leaned against a shop wall heaving and heaving again, each involuntary attempt at emptying his stomach met by cheers from passers-by.

On the town with work colleagues from Hastings, he was oblivious to both the appreciation and the token Burger King serviette offered by his friend.

This was one of several spectacles I witnessed.

Residents and workers have complained that alcohol-related trouble in the area has jumped and become more violent.

In a bid to reduce drunken disorder, police have teamed up with the Auckland Council to create a local alcohol policy to be introduced after the Alcohol Reform Bill is passed this year.

But on this morning the hordes on Queen St were largely good natured, if a bit messy.

A sober stroll down the harbour end of the street would either shock or entertain - depending on your sensibilities, and depending on whether you had to live above the racket.

The only hint of trouble came when officers arrested a man after he was involved in a minor scuffle.

His friends protested for a while, before one hugged the alleged victim before they headed to another pub.

More hazardous was the likelihood of self-harm.

A girl ignored cries from her friends and minced out into moving traffic.

Another man slapped the bonnet of a taxi while crossing a sidestreet, yelling, "this is in my way, get out of my way". Drivers were strangely accepting of such displays.

Two women dressed in Sailor Moon outfits stopped and danced to music pumping from QF Tavern, under the silent gaze of patrons outside having a smoke. They were quickly joined by other male passersby, who eventually give up and crossed the road, one kung-fu kicking a car as it passed.

Snatches of overheard conversation - "I need some big boys, have you got any big boys?" - added to the otherworldliness.

Short skirts drew stares and dire pick-up lines.

"You look like that girl in Van Helsing - Kate Beckinsale," was one such "attempt". It failed.

"Titties," was one of the worst, screamed from a passing car. It earned an instant "eat s***" response.

Most effective was a group of friends who linked arms to repel the repeated attempts of a trailing group of men. They hung on for about 200 metres until the bright lights of Burger King offered too good a chance to satisfy another primal urge.

- NZ Herald

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