'Confused and stressed' Queenstown stallholders fight for survival

by Lauren Pattemore - Jan 10, 2024

It's been a week since new bylaw restrictions have been in place for Queenstown lakefront stallholders and now they're are asking for an urgent meeting with the Queenstown Lakes District Council to resolve what they say is an issue of survival.

Longterm stallholder Jan Nicholson says she hasn't traded since January 3, and those who aren't set up on the waterfront are "all stressing at home with no income".

"It's a very stressful, very confusing time for us. Do we risk going back there, and what is the council's stance?" 

She wants to open a dialogue with the council. 

Just before Christmas, the licensed stallholders were told by council enforcement officers they must be spaced out 50 metres apart and move every hour. 

Ms Nicholson clarified with Crux today that these two rules have been in the 'Activities in Public Places' bylaw for the past ten years, however, whenever stallholders asked about them, the council always said they were not to be enforced. 

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has told Crux they were moving on to an enforcement phase where stall holders must adhere to the bylaw requirements.  

But subsequent media statements indicate a softer approach where enforcement action will only be taken "as needed", and Ms Nicholson wants to clarify what "as needed" means. 

"Are they enforcing the 50 metre spacing and do we have to move every hour, or not?"

After the news was first delivered to stallholders before Christmas, one trader attempted to speak with council "higher-ups" about this decision, but were told they were "too busy dealing with last minute things" before the holiday break. 

She hopes as council staff return to work they will agree to meet with a group of stallholders, and reach a mutually acceptable agreement.

She says that the waterfront had become crowded with stallholders in the last six months, as the council had issued so many new licenses to stallholders with few if any limitations.

"If they are issuing licenses to everyone, then it needs to be regulated, someone needs to control it."

She says some compromise can be reached.

Queenstown's central business district is now made up of a majority of big retailers, and Ms Nicholson says that the stallholders bring something different. 

"We all get on really, really well with our tourists, and we all sell different products, and most of them are handmade by us, so we bring vibrancy to the waterfront."

Ms Nicholson sells makes possum fur slippers, that each take three hours to make, and are hard to buy in the area now, as the possum-fur seller has since shut down its Queenstown shop.  

She hopes for a conclusion, for the sake of the livelihood of the 40 stallholders. 

"In the meantime, we're staying away without income until we can hopefully find someone at the council that we can talk to and come up with a solution that everybody's happy with."






Support Crux Support Crux