Apply for a special licence

A special licence allows the sale or supply of alcohol at certain events or series of events (e.g. a wine and food show, concert, market, and some types of private functions).

When to apply

The application must be filed at least 20 working days before the event. However, people should file the application even earlier to help ensure it is processed in time.

Working days are Monday to Friday, excluding weekends, public holidays, and the period from December 20th until January 15th each year.

If lodging an application less than 20 working days prior to the event date, you must include a letter with the application outlining the reasons for the late lodgement. The District Licensing Committee may consider the application if satisfied that the need for a special licence could not have been reasonably foreseen earlier (e.g. a funeral), however the application fee is non-refundable whether the application is accepted or not.

When a special licence is required

A licence is needed if alcohol is being sold at the event, or if alcohol will be available and an entry fee is charged or donations/koha requested. The applicant (licensee) must be the person or entity receiving the proceeds from the sale of alcohol in the first instance. Apply for a special licence when:

  • An event is being held in a place that is not licensed e.g. a park or community hall; or

  • The event will run outside a licensed premises' current hours or conditions – but it cannot be for just an extension of licensing hours i.e. it must be for a genuine event

There are two types of special licence:

  1. On-site special licences (for consumption of alcohol at the event)

  2. Off-site special licences (for the sale of alcohol to be taken away from the event and consumed elsewhere. An off-site special licensee can only sell their own alcohol, e.g. a winery can sell the wine they produce)

A special licence can cover a series of events, for a period of up to 12 months.

Apply early for summer events 

Weekends, statutory holidays and any days between 20 December and 15 January (inclusive) are not ‘working days' according to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012. This means people seeking a special licence need to think carefully about when they need to submit their application by, especially for events between late December and mid-February.

Need help?

Contact the alcohol licensing inspector to discuss anything about the sale of alcohol:

Phone 03 441 0499 (Queenstown) or 03 443 0024 (Wanaka).

Special licence fees

Use our Alcohol Licence Fees Calculator to work out the special licence application fee for your event or series of events.

Application Process - what to expect

The process for each application is generally:

  • Submit a completed application to the District Licensing Committee (at Council). You must ensure your application is complete, using the check sheet.

  • The District Licensing Committee (DLC) Secretary will forward a copy of your application to the Police, Medical Officer of Health and Alcohol Inspector, who are required under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act to inquire into the application.

  • If the Police or Medical Officer of Health has any matters in opposition to the application, they must file a report on it within 15 working days. Copies of their reports will be sent to you.

  • The DLC will determine the application whether there are no objections (on the papers); or 

  • If the Police or Medical Officer of Health raise matters in opposition to your application the DLC may choose to determine the application on the papers or refer this to a public hearing.