Late-night Bars to Close at 4am

12 November 2013

Late-night bars in the Capital and elsewhere that trade well into the small hours will soon have to close at 4am, so night owls will have to plan how to get home.


Late-night bars including this one – Electric Avenue in Courtenay Place – will soon have to close at 4am


The law change will affect about 30 bars in Wellington City that currently stay open until 5 or 6am and means their customers will no longer be able to leave at closing time and catch an early morning bus or train.

The trading hours of 8am - 4am for on-licensed bars, clubs, restaurants and cafes come into effect from midnight on Wednesday 18 December, and will stay in place until councils adopt their local alcohol policies.

In Wellington, this will probably be late 2014. City Councillors approved a provisional policy in October but this is likely to be appealed. Sales of alcohol at supermarkets, dairies and liquor stores will be restricted to 7am - 11pm.

The Council’s Community Services Manager, Jenny Rains, says that with limited early morning public transport services, people will need to plan in advance how they will get home.

“We’re exploring transport options and will provide more advice over coming weeks. Our main concern is to ensure that people stay safe in the city and we’re working closely with the Police on ways to minimise potential problems.”

There could be hundreds of people leaving bars at 4am with no way of getting home other than waiting around until bus and train services start, or taking a taxi, which is expensive if you live further afield.”

Bar staff will have a new legal responsibility to provide information to their patrons about transport options, and the Council is also working with transport operators, Police and food outlets in the Courtenay Place area.

We’ll be running a campaign from early December to let the public know about 4am closing, and remind people that they’ll have to have a plan for getting home.

Other changes set to come in on 18 December include licensed venues having to supply free water, and restrictions on how alcohol can be promoted.

Local communities will also have a greater say on licensed premises in their area - neighbours and communities will be able to object to licence applications if they have concerns about noise or the impact of the premises on the area. Licences will be decided by district licensing committees, with committee hearings open to the public.

For more information on liquor licensing changes or Wellington City’s District Licensing Committee, phone 499 4444 to speak to our public health team.