crate day

Posted from Queenstown, Otago, New Zealand.

Is it a holiday? Is it a glorified excuse to abuse alcohol? A remarkable journey into the vast capabilities of the human body? Is it just a reason to try to consume 9 litres of alcohol in one day? Or an excuse to be a bloody idiot all day? Or is it a long awaited event prone to captures your whimsy and encourage you to not take life so damn seriously?


12 x 750mL ... It's harder than you think.

12 x 750mL … It’s harder than you think.

Crate Day started in 2010 by radio station The Rock in New Zealand as a means to celebrate the upcoming summer. Generally held on the first Saturday of December, Crate Day stipulates that you must get a crate of bottles, 12 750mL bottles that is, and take the day to consume them. There are rules that can be followed to keep it legit, 10 commandments actually, that basically say you must wear a black singlet with short shorts (called stubbies in NZ,) have a bbq, ensure safety to those that participate – like ensuring no one drinks and drives or decides to try their hand at being Muhammad Ali, and that you buy bottles from your town of origin, or at least as close as possible.

Most of the gang well into the day.

Most of the gang well into the day.

So being that I’m in New Zealand and that I love beer I figured I would join in on these festivities with my work mates. I had to procure a crate of beer – $39.90 at Liquor King on Gorge Rd. Then I chipped in $10 for the barbecue. I was ready. Or so I thought.

For our Crate Day we decided to hold it on the first Friday of December due to being weathered out at work and the approaching bad weather on Saturday – which meant a survivable day at home to recover from the obvious ensuing hangover. So come 2 p.m., after work was cancelled, we began to trickle into Jubilee Park, a small largely under-utilized green spot by the lake close to town. One of the guys set up a tent, which we hardly used, and another brought a barbecue over.

So many crates of beer. Not everyone was aiming for the full dozen. A few decided to split their crate as perhaps experience had taught them that they could not possibly finish the whole crate, or that they really didn’t want to finish the crate. Some had started early, having had the full day off from work and were well into their crates making the end seem possible. It was debatable if this was legit, however, as they had no witnesses to attest that it was they who had consumed the missing quaffs. In the spirit of the day, though, we let it slide.

Probably not the best way to go down the slip and slide, but an effective way .

Probably not the best way to go down the slip and slide, but an effective way .

It’s probably hard to imagine a group of skydivers in a park getting absolutely wasted and it not turning into a melee of the most diabolical sorts. But, you see, after the slip and slide, the quasi cricket match, the game where one must spin on a stick with their head and then jump over a stick – which is really quite hysterical when the participants are half deep in a crate of beer – but after these games there wasn’t much energy left to get into much trouble.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s a lot of drinking. Where oh where did we pee? Luckily one of the guys lived in a house that edged the park and allowed free access to his toilet.

Our chef.

Our chef.

Someone had the wherewithal to get the barbecue going and begin cooking the massive, I mean some 10kgs of beef, for us participants. I’m not going to lie. At this point I was useless. I don’t even know how I managed to eat, let alone know how or what to eat.

Things begin to get blurry and I can’t really tell you what else happened as I woke up in my car at 4:30 a.m. The park was clean, everyone was gone and there was a tidy row of crates – bottles empty – lined up along the curb.

The hangover was minimal, but I can’t speak for everyone. What we thought was going to be a bad weather day – turned into a lovely day and we all were called into work for 9 a.m. Of course, due to the high levels of hangovers and the therefore minimal staff due to those that called in sick, the day dragged on like a heavy wet blanket.

I did find out that some people headed to the bars in town after the park festivities. It’s somewhat baffling, but then not really all that surprising.

The cases are getting empty and it's not yet dark.

The cases are getting empty and it’s not yet dark.

My review. Crate Day has a lot of critics. Some people think that New Zealand has enough of a battle on its hands with substance abuse and therefore think this event just adds fuel to the unnecessary fire. To me it has nothing to do with alcoholism – it’s about camaraderie and emancipation. It’s about letting loose and enjoying the upcoming summer. And perhaps, I’ll admit, it is a bit reckless – I mean, nine litres of beer is just asking for liver failure. But the whole point is to be around your friends. In my experience it’s when we’re at our worst that we learn who will still be there when we’re at our best. Nothing better than a drink-fest to figure that one out.

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