Here's how you can take action to protect our stunning outdoor spaces.
Alcohol-free great outdoors
Terriorial Authorities (local Councils) can implement alcohol bylaws (alcohol bans) in public places, including beaches. Here are some examples:
- In Auckland region, an alcohol ban is in place at Takapuna beach between 9pm to 7 am during daylight savings and between 7pm to 7am outside daylight savings
- Alcohol use is prohibited at Piha (Auckland) beach during certain times of the year (e.g. Labour weekend to after Easter);
- In Nelson, alcohol is prohibited between 9pm to 7am at Tahunanui Reserve Beach and Lions Playground (Tahunanui Reserve)
For more information on alcohol bylaws/bans in public places, please check out the sub-section - Alcohol in public places.
Regional Parks are not currently alcohol-free. Regional Councils do not have the powers to make alcohol bylaws / bans. You could always approach them to create their own policy.
Boating and alcohol
You can be prosecuted for operating a boat in a manner that causes unnecessary danger, under section 65 of the Maritime Transport Act.
If you’ve been drinking, the risks escalate the moment you end up in the water. Alcohol can:
- decrease your coordination and ability to perform a simple task, such as putting on a lifejacket
- increase your sense of disorientation
- make it harder for you to stay afloat
- lower the concentrations of blood going to your brain and muscles, contributing to muscle, heat and fluid loss and speeding up the onset of hypothermia
- reduce your ability to hold your breath
- suppress your airway protection reflexes so you are more likely to inhale water
- give you a false sense of your situation, causing you to attempt tasks beyond your abilities; and reduce your awareness of the onset of hypothermia.
Many New Zealanders consume alcohol in outdoor public places.
There may be bans on alcohol consumption in some outdoor spaces, in certain times of the day or year.
Large gatherings of people in outdoor spaces can present risks for alcohol-related harm. This is especially so during festive occasions such as New Year's Eve.
Alcohol use poses high risks at events that involve water-based activities. Impairment begins well below intoxication levels - this is very important to keep in mind.
Alcohol plays a role in New Zealand's horrific drowning statistics.
Alcohol and the great outdoors
New Zealand has amazing outdoor areas (regional parks, beaches, rivers, and lakes, etc.).
Drinking alcohol in these areas present a number of inherent risks to users. Just like local Councils can implement alcohol bans in public places such as beaches, so too can Regional Councils in the parks and open spaces that they manage.
Alcohol use in the great outdoors
When New Zealand drinkers were asked about the locations that they drank alcohol (in 2007/08), around 15% of past-year drinkers reported drinking in outdoor public places .
Alcohol use at beaches
As stated above, many beaches may have alcohol bans which prohibit drinking in certain times of the day or year.
Binge drinking may occur in the great outdoors, especially when there are gatherings of many people. .
Excessive use of alcohol in public places may cause significant alcohol-related problems and public disorder especially during festive occasions such as New Year's Eve . Alcohol-related problems have also occurred on National Crate Day in previous years:
- In 2016, there were 29 arrests, 6 people were treated for lacerations on their feet caused by broken bottles, and one person was hospitalised for alcohol poisoning .
- In 2015, a police riot squad was called to Manly Beach (also in Hibiscus Coast, Auckland), where over 300 people were drinking, to restore order.
In 2017, the Police decided to impose a temporary alcohol ban on the parks and beaches of the Hibiscus Coast over the first weekend of December, in order to prevent the problems of previous years.
Alcohol use and water sports
Alcohol use may pose certain risks when performing outdoor activities. Impairment begins well below intoxication levels - this is very important to keep in mind.
Alcohol use is a risk factor in drowning, with the risk increasing as blood alcohol content increases . Drinking is associated with a 10-fold increase in reckless behaviour such as the violation of safety rules and swimming in unauthorised areas . Blood alcohol levels of 100mg/dl (BAC 0.10) or greater increases the risk of drowning by 16 times .
Between 2008 and 2012, 13% of all drowning deaths were alcohol-related. This equates to 71 lives. Alcohol is considered to be a factor in poor supervision of children who have drowned .
More than half of these occurred during swimming, fishing and accidentally falling into water . Higher rates are particularly found among Māori, Pacifica, males and young adults [60, 64].
Drinking on boats causes around three deaths each year in New Zealand .
Alcohol is also implicated in land-based fishing drownings, paddle-sports fatalities and underwater activities [66-69].
Skippers of recreational boats are not bound by a legal blood alcohol limit.
The economic cost of a fatal drowning is estimated at $3.4 million .
There is limited data on alcohol-related non-fatal drownings, near drownings and other aquatic injuries.
Clubs can provide an important place for building knowledge and skills, fitness and physical activity, cultural or artistic expression as well as social connection. Clubs often provide essential facilities and activities for children and young people so it is important to ensure these environments are safe and supportive of good health and well-being.
However, alcohol consumption can sometimes undermine these benefits and threaten the viability of the club. For example, problems can arise if one or more of the members are bringing their problematic drinking into the club environment, spectators are drinking prior to and/or during the game, or after-match functions or club events involve heavy drinking.
Here''s what you need to know before taking action.
Participation in sport is very popular in New Zealand, across all ages. Some people play sport, others volunteer as coaches, trainers, etc.
The importance of sport in the culture of New Zealand highlights the role of clubs in providing a healthy environment, especially for children and young people.
Sport is a primary vehicle for the promotion of alcohol in New Zealand. Many professional teams in New Zealand are sponsored by alcohol companies.
Players who receive alcohol sponsorship are more likely to drink heavily.
Many clubs in New Zealand are licensed to sell alcohol; the management of alcohol in these settings needs extra care given the presence of young people.
Sports clubs can take important action to reduce harm to their participants, but also help to change the wider drinking culture.