Some of Rotorua's favourite bars have stepped up and are offering free drinks to designated sober drivers to ensure everyone gets home safe.

Seven bars contacted by the Rotorua Daily Post have taken their host responsibility to the next level, offering non-alcoholic drinks and footing the bill at the same time.

Although new to town, Social Club Rotorua, which is an extension of the popular Mount Social Club, has always adopted this policy and owner Lucas Fleury said he planned to continue it in Rotorua.

"If we have a group of people drinking and they have organised someone to drive them home safely then it is the least we can do to show our appreciation of that, to reward that kind of behaviour."


Fleury said at times the Social Club had gone to the extent of paying for the taxi to ensure their customers arrived home safe.

He believed it was a common hospitality practice but understood it wasn't promoted.

"It's part of our host responsibility as far as I am concerned. We've got to do whatever we can to be a good, responsible host."

The Good Eastern Taphouse, The Pig & Whistle, Our Backyard Pub, SOBAR, Brew and Lava Bar all offer the free designated driver drinks.

A Lava Bar spokesperson said, "Lava Bar is committed to safe responsible consumption and offering this is the least we can do to help our community get home safe. Sober drivers are very important."

Hospitality Bay of Plenty president Reg Hennessy thinks free designated driver drinks are a great idea. Photo / File
Hospitality Bay of Plenty president Reg Hennessy thinks free designated driver drinks are a great idea. Photo / File

Hospitality New Zealand Bay of Plenty president Reg Hennessy said although his business, Hennessy's Irish Bar, did not offer free drinks due to a heavier focus on food, he praised those that did.

"I would hope those places that are targeting a lot of our younger people are making sure that they're safe and looking after their designated drivers."

Ministry of Transport statistics from 2015 to 2017 show alcohol was a contributing factor to 49 of 678 drivers involved in crashes in Rotorua.


This led to 40 minor injuries, 13 serious injuries and four deaths.

Nationally, over the same time period, 21 per cent of deaths in motor vehicle crashes involved driver alcohol as a contributing factor.

NZ Transport Agency safety and environment director Harry Wilson said the high number of deaths and serious injuries on the roads affected families and communities across New Zealand.

"At the end of the day, agencies can't do this alone. We need everyone's help to keep the roads safe, road safety is everybody's responsibility."