Wellington City Council is concerned that popular 'bottomless brunch' deals in the capital are encouraging binge drinking, with several complaints laid in relation to "out-of-hand" daytime drinkers.
'Bottomless brunch' refers to an all-you-can-drink promotion, offered by a number of licensed premises. Punters will pay a fixed price for brunch and unlimited alcoholic beverages over a set period of time - a concept that "encourages irresponsible drinking", according to Wellington City Council spokesperson Richard MacLean.
A video circulating on social media showing people sculling mimosas is understood to be the final straw, prompting the introduction of regulations to ensure the promotion complies with liquor-licensing laws.
Speaking to RNZ on Monday morning, MacLean said the authority had received a number of complaints over the last few months regarding "trollied" patrons and their lunchtime escapades.
"The problem is people drinking too much. We've had complaints over the last few months about people getting 'trollied' at lunchtime and that's probably not a good thing," he said.
"These things were getting a little bit out-of-hand by all accounts."
The council and local police are now cracking down on the deal in a bid to uphold liquor-licensing laws.
"Our liquor-licensing laws are actually designed to stop people getting intoxicated," MacLean said.
"Pubs shouldn't be encouraging irresponsible drinking."
A police spokesperson confirmed to Newshub that authorities will work with licensed premises to ensure they are complying with their obligations under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.
"We continue to work with licence-holders using the graduated response model to ensure they are complying with their obligations under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012," the spokesperson said.
However, they denied the regulation is a "crackdown", acknowledging that authorities are concerned about the harm bottomless brunches could cause.
"We are concerned about any event which has the potential for harm caused by excessive or inappropriate use of alcohol and work closely with the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority and our partner agencies in an effort to minimise this harm."
MacLean told RNZ the council has come to an agreement with a number of establishments, with bar owners now opting for "slightly less over-the-top" arrangements.
Bars are encouraged to introduce an alternative which allows patrons to consume a maximum of four drinks, monitored with a coupon or token system, over a set period of time.
"[Instead of] people drinking so much that they're walking sideways down the street at 2pm," MacLean added.
The police spokesperson confirmed that officers have worked with some establishments to support the continuation of bottomless brunches - but with added boundaries.
"We have worked with some promoters of bottomless brunches to support them in offering this service, while promoting the responsible consumption of alcohol," they said.
Discussions with bar owners and bottomless brunch promoters are ongoing and authorities are keeping an eye on social media platforms.
Kāpura hospitality group director Andrew Williams told the NZ Herald that establishments should make it more obvious that brunch food is also continuous.
He added that the host should be responsible for the behaviour of their customers, ensuring plenty of food and water is available and prioritising table service over bar service.
An Auckland Council spokesperson told Newshub the authority supports Wellington City Council's effort to "ensure the safe us of alcohol".
However, the spokesperson said the council has not yet encountered issues with bottomless brunches in the Auckland region.
"While our alcohol licencing staff are aware of the practice, we have not encountered issues with it in our region so far," they said.
"The instances we are aware of have had clear alcohol management measures in place, which have been advertised and enforced, providing a constructive approach towards reducing alcohol-related harm that could arise from the practice."