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These Heroes Beat an Alcohol Ban by Building Their Own Private Sand Island

They brought a picnic table and a cooler out to their boozy sanctuary so they could spend New Year's Eve watching fireworks in "international waters."
Drew Schwartz
Brooklyn, US
Photo by David Saunders.

The New Zealand beach town of Whangamata has long been a popular destination for folks looking to have a good time on New Year's Eve, when thousands of teens come to drink, dance, and see some fireworks. But in an effort to cut down on the drunken mayhem, the town imposed a public drinking ban over the holiday—a law that apparently didn't stop a few crafty, determined drinkers from setting up their own boozy sanctuary off the coast.


According to the BBC, the group spent Sunday building a makeshift private island off the Coromandel Peninsula, constructed out of sand, seashells, and a few wooden planks. The revelers set it up at low tide, and dragged out a picnic table and a cooler so they could get blasted out on "international waters," see some fireworks, and stay away from the cops.

"We thought it would be a good laugh and the drinking ban would be a gray area if we were on our own island," organizer Leon Hayward told TIME.

While the less creative among us were getting weird at some shitty club or the Times Square Olive Garden, Hayward and his cohorts drank well into the night out on the sea. According to Stuff, they did a pretty solid job building their structure, because the thing was still standing on Monday morning. Photos of the makeshift island started floating around online after David Saunders posted a picture to a Facebook group called Tairua ChitChat!, the BBC reports.

Even local authorities could appreciate the group's sheer determination and craftsmanship. Thames-Coromandel mayor Sandra Goudie told TIME she was impressed by the gang's commitment to getting drunk in public.

"Everybody was quite entertained by it; it wasn’t hurting anybody," she told TIME. "They were trying to claim it was in international waters but, of course, it isn’t."

Still, the group somehow managed to avoid ringing in the New Year by getting arrested or slapped with a hefty fine. Local police chief John Kelly told Stuff he hadn't heard about Hayward's creation, but he seemed pretty down with the makeshift island-nation of revelers.

"That's creative thinking," he told Stuff. "If I had known that I probably would have joined them."

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