Whangamata goes booze-free to rein in revellers

A notorious New Year hotspot on the Coromandel Peninsula has reigned in drunken revellers by going alcohol-free.

Whangamata has seen its fair share of trouble as thousands of teens flock to the beachside town each year.

But the community has been working to make New Year's Eve in the town a more family-friendly celebration.

The fire service is hoping this early prevention will reduce trouble later in the night.

"It's about reduction of alcohol harm here in our community of Whangamata," says Ross Fleet, Eastern Waikato Fire Risk Manager.

A strict alcohol ban is in force, and anyone caught breaking the rules gets an on-the-spot fine.

This year for the first time, the party area was fenced off for an organised alcohol-free event. 

The crowds still kept emergency services busy, and at least two underage drinkers were taken away by ambulance.

Police wouldn't reveal numbers, but say most people were well-behaved.

"Most of the crowd is here to have a good time and it's really great," says Inspector John Kelly, Eastern Waikato Area Commander.

"Enforcement of the liquor ban has brought a positive change in the people who turn up. When everyone's gone home tonight, we'll look around and there'll be hardly any bottles on the road, which is a positive sign for us."