Big Weekend Approaches for the City

21 January 2010

The first weekend in February is always a big one for Wellington, and this year promises to be the same.

There's lots going on – the City Council's own Waitangi Day celebrations at Waitangi Park on 6 February, as well as Radio Active's One Love – Jammin' at the Hataitai Velodrome on the same day. The OK Dinghy World Championships are in town and will have a massive presence around Oriental Bay and the waterfront. And let's not forget the NZI Sevens – from the parade on Thursday right up until Sunday morning, there'll be dressed-up revellers all over town.

The Council's Recreation and Events Portfolio Leader, Councillor John Morrison, says it's a good time to stay in town.

"Whether you're into rugby, reggae, regattas or all three, there's plenty for you to do and see at the weekend. The fun kicks off with the annual Sevens parade at lunchtime on Thursday 4 February, where you can come out of your office for an hour, head to Lambton Quay and welcome the international teams to Wellington. The parade ends at Civic Square, where I understand there'll be a bit of a shindig," says Cr Morrison.

The NZI Sevens action starts on Friday 5 February at Westpac Stadium, and runs again the next day.

"But don't worry if you couldn't get a ticket this year," says Cr Morrison. "There'll be a big screen at Queens Wharf and another on Courtenay Place on the Saturday, so you won't have to miss any of the rugby.

"As well as that, The Dominion Post are putting on a rather interesting event on the Friday afternoon at the Railway Station – their 'fashion runway'. We've seen all kinds of dress-ups in previous years – swarms of bumble bees, Sesame Street characters, groups of people entirely dressed up as 'blanket man', and Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po. Walk up the red carpet in your best costume this year and you might win an NZI Sevens ticket.

"And it's our national day on Saturday 6 February. Waitangi Park will have lots of cultural performances, a tent where you can find out all kinds of information about the Waitangi Tribunal and lots of craft and food stalls. This year's headline act is Unity Pacific – a band fronted by New Zealand's godfather of reggae, Tigilau Ness.

"While we're on the subject of reggae, Bob Marley's birthday will be celebrated at the One Love series of concerts at the Hataitai Velodrome. Acts include the Midnights, Sola Rosa, Don McGlashan, and bizarrely enough, a reggae act all the way from Glasgow, Mungo's Hi-fi – complete with red-headed dreadlocks.

"So theoretically, you could head to One Love in the morning, go to Waitangi Park for the afternoon, and then join Wellington Batucada as they drum their way from Queens Wharf to Westpac Stadium in the lead up to kick-off. And if you've enough energy left in between – check out the OK Dinghy Regatta on the Waterfront," says Cr Morrison.

All of this excitement means that there'll be road closures, bus diversions and congested traffic over Waitangi weekend. For starters, Courtenay Place will be closed from 5pm on Saturday 6 February until 6am on Sunday 7 February. This is to allow NZI Sevens revellers more room to move about and enjoy the big screens and the music stage, and to allow bar and restaurant owners to place extra seating out on the street.

This traffic closure includes buses and taxis. To compensate for this, there'll be extended bus stops on Taranaki and Dixon Streets, and temporary taxi stands on Wakefield Street between Blair and Allen streets and on Cambridge Terrace between Courtenay Place and Tennyson Street. For information on buses, go to www.metlink.org.nz.

Cr Morrison says people who are heading to the airport on Waitangi Day would do well to avoid the Hataitai / Mt Victoria area because of events at the Velodrome. "We recommend either leaving really early for your flight, or taking the long way round the bays to the airport," he says.

And lastly, people are asked to remember the year-round liquor ban that's in place in the central city.