Central Wellington at midnight looks different to the postcard cafe scene and stiff political suits.
It's still alive and bustling, but the hordes of people braving the drizzly, windy weather on a Friday night in town are fuelled by alcohol rather than caffeine.
There are also a lot more police on the streets. And as it turns out, drunk people love the police.
Inspector Wade Jennings says there's often a feeling police pick up on early in the night – they can usually tell if things are going to turn sour. But this isn't one of those nights.
A bar worker who is changing the specials on a chalkboard sign tells me the same thing.
"By 11 o'clock you know and by four o'clock they've obviously all been put away in the cells," he says.
Wellington police gather at 9.30pm for a briefing before hitting the streets with the intoxicated masses.
They're ready for a busy night - police data shows in the year to March 2019 there were 361 recorded disorderly conduct incidents in Wellington's entertainment precinct between the hours of 9pm and 6am on Fridays and Saturdays. The numbers account for more than 70 per cent of the recorded disorderly conducts in Wellington city for those time periods, and half of all disorderlies in the entire region.
It's a similar story nationally - in Auckland Central East and West and Auckland Harbourside there were 494 recorded disorderly conduct incidents in those time periods.
Some incidents may be reported as one thing initially, but recorded differently once they are processed at the police station.
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For example, a disorderly conduct incident might be reported in the entertainment precinct, but could be upgraded to assault at the station.
Being a visible presence and making sure they're approachable is part of how police work to keep people safe right around the country.
In Auckland that can mean simply walking up and down Queen St, or in Tauranga they may be patrolling The Strand as people hop between clubs.
In Wellington it's wandering Courtenay Place, making conversation with people who are out enjoying their night.
"Most people in New Zealand have a very limited interaction with the police, so when they do you want it to be positive," Jennings tells me.
People are generally happy to speak to cops they see outside the bars and clubs, in fact they're usually the ones to strike up the conversation in the first place.
Sure enough, within 30 seconds of getting out of the police car, a group has come up to chat to us. They point to me in my hi-viz jacket and ask if I'm a trainee.
We walk down the street and it's not long before we see a young man in a beanie staggering down the footpath with his friends.
Jennings stops to ask if he's okay, and one of the man's friends throws a comment over his shoulder with a mischievous grin: "We are so f***ed on so many drugs."
We catch up to them and his bravado disappears. He was joking about the drugs, he says.
Jennings is more interested in making sure his stumbling friend is taken care of. The friend, quite drunk, tells us he wants to go to the newly opened Timezone and "shoot some hoops". He looks me dead in the eye and loudly announces his plans to go to the toilet. As we leave, he reminds us a few times to "stay safe".
"Make sure he doesn't drink any more tonight," Jennings says to his mates. "Look after him."
His job tonight isn't to ruin anyone's fun. Police want people to come into town and have a good time. But they start to intervene when people are ruining everyone else's fun.
Officers are looking out for the people knocking into others, pushing people over, clambering over cars, yelling and swearing.
"Just behaviour you don't expect of a normal person," Jennings says.
This is a quiet night. While we're in town from about 10pm-2am, nobody is arrested. I hear later that after we leave town five people are arrested, some for walking over a police car under the nose of officers.
There are reports of a fight on Manners St, but when we arrive nobody is there, except a man on the sidewalk who is using his cellphone to film the gathered cops, with an intense look of concentration on his face.
The night is a mixed bag of interactions with the public, but there's nothing negative.
We stand on a corner next to a busker, and people reach out to bump fists with us as they dance past.
"Thank you for your service," some of them call out. "Thank you for keeping the streets safe."
Someone asks us directions to a local bar, another offers us some chips.
A young man named Ben who slurs his words so much that I can barely understand him insists on selfies. He grabs my notebook to scrawl down the name of an officer he knows, and it takes three of us to wrestle it back off him.
"Are you an apprentice?" he asks me.
"No, I'm a journalist," I say.
"Who do you work for?
"The New Ze-"
"One News? One News!"
I try to correct Ben, but he seems too excited about TV news to really notice.
He begs Jennings to let him film him for a Snapchat story, before his apparently sober friend drags him away.
Next there's a young woman striding purposefully past with tears streaming down her face. Jennings jumps in to check on her.
She got into a scuffle with another girl and is heading back to her halls of residence. She almost goes into a panic when Jennings offers her a ride. She doesn't want to go in a police car, and she doesn't want help, but she appreciates the concern.
One woman who does want help catches up to us as we're crossing the street.
"Excuse me I know it's not a big deal but do any of you have a plaster?" She points to a cut on her shin.
Jennings waves down a passing community patrol vehicle and leaves her in their capable hands.
Most nights aren't this mundane – the weirdest callouts Jennings ever received was during the Wellington Sevens.
"Batman had just punched a licorice allsort and Spiderman was holding the marshmallow man. That came across the radio," he said.
Other jobs are just as comical, such as a man police spotted in town who was wanted for arrest. He turned to run, and "pretty much knocked himself out" running straight into a pole.
Not that long ago, the havoc from town used to spill over into the morning, because bars and clubs in Wellington didn't have closing times.
Officers starting their shift at 6am would still be dealing with people in town drinking and fighting as other members of the public headed to work.
These days, town shuts down at 4am. We finish our shift just before 2am.
"We want to see everyone who comes into the city enjoy the experience and return home safely at the end of the night," Jennings says.
Police encourage everyone coming into the city to look after themselves and their friends, and make sure they have a plan in place to get home safely at the end of the night.
We started the evening with warnings about what to do if I got someone's blood or saliva on me, and a heads up I might have to help sit on someone's legs if they were being difficult to arrest.
None of that happened. For a journalist keen to experience the excitement and drama cops face every day, it didn't quite live up to expectations.
But for police and the rest of the public, it's a great night.