Why Wellington nightlife is the best in the world  
Wellington is, simply put, a blast to go out in. Whether you like busy nightclubs, jovial Irish pubs, dark, underground sweatboxes, chic bars or indie rock dives, you will find what you are looking for here. Here are some of our favourite night spots in the ‘Capital of Cool'.
Located in the intense vibrancy of Wellington's bohemian Mecca, Cuba Street, Matterhorn is a true institution. A place where artists, film makers, writers and other creative types come to eat, drink and solve the problems of the world, it is famous well beyond the Wellington city limits. It's extensive wine and cocktail menu complements perfectly the rich and diverse food choices, while music is generally provided live by The Eggs, an ultra cool collective of local musicians.
Mighty, Mighty
Just next door to the ultra-hip Matterhorn is something entirely different. Mighty, Mighty prides itself on being weird, wonderful and whacky, from its bright pink curtains to its palm tree decorations to its list of over the top events such as burlesque, hula hooping, pub quizzes, rap wrestling, eating competitions, dancing competitions, rockabilly nights and limbo contests. If you like things off-the-wall and don't mind making a fool of yourself, you may have just found your spiritual home.
Hawthorn Lounge
If Mighty, Mighty sounds like your idea of hell, however, there is a good chance you will fit in a bit better over in the Hawthorn Lounge on Tory Street. Designed with incredible attention to detail to match the style of an exclusive gentleman's club of the 1920s, it is a place for well dressed people to sit in comfortable seats, listen to big band music and slurp long, stiff cocktails.
Mac's Brew Bar
When the sun is in the sky and you feel like a drink (which is most of the time in Wellington) there are few places better to be than Mac's. Located beautifully on the Wellington waterfront, you can chill out at one of the outdoor tables and enjoy one of the many craft brews on the menu. It's a great spot to watch Rugby too.
St. Johns
Another great waterfront spot for when the sun is soaking the city, St. Johns seats its customers on bean bags, from which they can enjoy a huge range of international beers on tap, plus guest beers from the local Black Dog Brewery.
Wellington: A film buff’s paradise  
As the home of the booming Kiwi film and televisions industries, it is no surprise to learn that there is plenty to see and do in Wellington for the big time film fan. As well as being the shooting location for many of the biggest cinema hits of the last twenty years, it also offers a host of great cinemas. Here are our top locations for the film buff in the capital.
Take a film tour
If you are new to the city and looking to learn about its cinematic history, then a tour is a good place to start. Guided tours from companies such as Flat Earth, Wellington Rover Tours and Wellington Movie Tours will show you some incredible sites from historical Kiwi movies, as well as giving you the background to the most important moments in the local film scene's development.
The Weta Cave
The famous digital effects company that was founded by Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor and James Selkirk more than twenty years ago has been responsible for many of the most memorable and fantastic monsters and moments from the recent cinema history. If you love film, particularly fantasy film, then a visit to their ‘Cave' is essential.
Not only do you get to check out props and models from films such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong, you also get a real insight into how the company works and how it became such a rip roaring success. That makes it a great tour both for the casual film fan and the ambitious film maker looking for tips on how to make it big.
The Roxy Cinema
One of the capital's most famous cinemas, if not the most famous, The Roxy is one of the best places in the country to take in a flick. Recently revamped after a group of local film makers, including the Weta team, banded together to save the historic picture house from ruin, it is a glorious art deco building that oozes local history and colour. It's also a great place to hang out after your movie has finished, with the famous CoCo bar and restaurant and its sumptuous menu of cocktails and comfort food.
Sports events in 2014 in New Zealand  
If there is one thing that Kiwis love to do it's make the most of their leisure time. Whether that's the appreciation of the diversity of mouthwatering cuisine and wine, or participating in sports or enjoyig music, there are events which are celebrated across the islands throughout the year.
The New Zealand landscape has so much to offer, from beautiful vineyards and rolling countryside to rugged mountains and waters frequently transforming to churning rapids. These all offer a diversity of opportunities for locals and visitors alike to get together.
Hertz Sevens, Wellington
It's no wonder that New Zealanders are obsessed with rugby. The celebrated national All Blacks squad has been regarded as the world's strongest and most-feared opposition for years. Rugby plays a big part in New Zealand's events in 2014. Next year will see the Westpac Stadium hosting the Hertz Sevens, one of New Zealand's most enthralling and captivating events. Played out in the capital city annually, rugby fanatics flock to the stadium, many taking advantage of the celebratory atmosphere by dressing up as everything from pirates to mermaids. Once the referee has blown his final whistle, that is traditionally the cue for some serious partying and fun to commence, with Wellington welcoming its visitors to a carnival-like weekend.
Queenstown Winterfest
In June 2014 Queenstown will celebrate its winter festival. This unique event will bring visitors from every corner of the globe, hoping to catch the latest eye-popping winter sports activities. Queenstown Winterfest has been running since 1975, when enthusiastic locals got together and decided that their township, situated in a scenic inlet of Lake Wakatipu, would make the ideal location for some serious winter partying. As well as dazzling action on the ski slopes, the 10-day event also includes street parties, firework displays, stand-up comedy and even a Mardi Gras.
New Zealand PGA Pro-Am championship, Queenstown
New Zealand's enviable combination of beautiful landscapes and award winning vineyards is the perfect backdrop for its popular golf events. The New Zealand PGA Pro-Am championship will be held at The Hills venue in Queenstown., next Spring This annual competition is unusual in that professional and amateur golfers play alongside one another, leading to highly competitive and extremely entertaining matches for spectators. The Hills golf course is widely regarded as one of the country's most fabulous locations for any sports event. There can't be many other locations in the golf world that can boast greens and fairways languishing in the shadows of a dramatic glacial valley.
Things to see on the South Island  
While the North Island houses most of the population, the South Island of New Zealand packs the most punch when it comes to landscape. If you've come to New Zealand to see some impressive natural phenomenon, then this is the place to be. Here is our list of the top sights to see.
Take a Great Walk
New Zealand is famous for its Great Walks, majestic strolls through the rolling, unique landscape. Six of these eight walks take place in the South Island – the Milford Track, Routeburn Track, Abel Tasman Coastal Track, Heaphy Track, Kepler Track and Rakiura Track. So, make sure to pack your walking boots when you head south.
Look out for the Kiwi at Stewart Island
Stewart Island is a very, very special place to visit in New Zealand. Here, are the Raikura National Park, you will find a paradise of unspoilt beauty, with clean, clear water, gorgeous wildlife, beautiful landscapes and, of course, lots and lots of Kiwis.
Cruises on the Doubtful Sound
Doubtful Sound is an immaculate wilderness of reaching peaks, dense woodland and rare, beautiful wildlife. Take a cruise or a kayak and see dolphins, penguins and fur seals at play in this unblemished paradise.
If you're into adventure sports and outdoor activities, then Queenstown is the place for you. Here you can ski, hike, bike, bungy, sky dive, raft, canoe, balloon, jetboat and much, much more that will get your adrenalin pumping. Or, perhaps, you prefer a relaxing round of golf, followed by a cycle around the local vineyards and cruise through the lush landscape? All of this, and more, is on offer.
Otago Peninsula
Often referred to as the wildlife capital of New Zealand, the Otago Peninsula is home to the Royal Albatros, the Yellow Eyed Penguin and the Hoiho, amongst many other rare and endangered species. That makes it a must see for animal lovers.
The TranzAlpine train
The TranzAlpine traina The TranzAlpine train starts off in Christchurch before darting through some of the most jaw dropping scenery you will see from any train in the world: beautiful farmland, the rolling Canterbury Plains, the deep and majestic Southern Alps and plush woodlands.
Fine dining   
New Zealand's rich mixture of cultures and food traditions, plus its world famous meat and vegetables, makes it a joy for the foody with upmarket tastes. Across the country, world class restaurants are available, with every type of taste bud catered for. For those that like to dine at the highest end of the scale, here are the best eateries on offer.
A Deco
Not only is A Deco the best restaurant in Whangarei, it is arguably the best place to eat in the entire nation. Every element of the experience reinforces a sense of class and quality, from the elegant art deco cutlery to the wonderful ambience to the elegant food. Amongst the menu's many highlights are the three-cheese fritters, the rich pork belly and the snapper and baked kumara. Plus, there's a magnificent wine list too.
Black Barn Bistro
When it's lunchtime in Hawke's Bay those looking for an hour or two of fine dining head to the Black Barn Bistro. Here, overlooking the miles and miles of vineyards, you can sit, peacefully sipping a delicious vintage and tucking in to the magnificent menu. The sumac crusted venison is one of the menus many standout dishes, as is the pork belly with chilli pineapple salsa. Another highlight is the ultra friendly staff, who pack an impressively deep knowledge of both wine and food to go along with the speedy service. There are few winery lunches as good as this anywhere in the world.
In Auckland, an upmarket eatery has to be good to survive, so Cibo's long standing status as one of the city's hippest restaurants is testament to its quality. It's an attractive, hip, playful place, with a lush combination of Asian and European haute cuisine on the menu. The most recommended plate on the menu is probably the Roasted hapku with slipper lobster, XO sauce, snake beans and coconut porridge, which blends spectacular contrasting flavours into a single stunning dish.
Fittingly named, considering it is the busiest bistro in New Zealand's capital city, Capitol is rarely anything less than jam packed. Its popularity amongst the Wellington natives will be understandable once you taste the food from head chef Tom Hutchison, who blends Italian and local traditions into full flavoured dishes such as leek risotto, clams with lemon zest and fresh grilled sardines. You can wash it all down with something from the wonderfully extensive wine list.
A guide to New Zealand theme and leisure parks  
Though it might be most famous for adventure sports, wildlife, wine and gorgeous landscape, New Zealand is also a country that loves theme parks. For both the young and young at heart, it is well worth taking a day out of your trip to enjoy one of these fun-filled attractions.
Rainbow's End
Located in Manukau, Auckland, Rainbow's End offers something for every member of the family, with entertainments of all types. From the famous Power Surge ride, which spins you 18 metres in the air to the Fear Fall 82km drop to the twisting roller coaster, there's plenty on offer for those looking for a quick rush of adrenaline. For those that want to kick back and enjoy a show, there's the Flaming Phoenix, who perform every weekend. Those with very young children can rely on the Kidz Kingdom area to keep them entertained.
Spookers Ltd.
Fancy something a little scarier in your theme parks? Then Spookers, in Karaka, will be the place for you. Deathly creatures, ghosts and ghouls roam the ‘Scream Park', which promises that ‘you are not safe until you manage to escape'. Enjoy being terrified in the Freaky Forest of Fear, the CornEvil, the Amazing Maze n Maize and Disturbia. Those with small kids should be warned that they will only admitted during the day. At night, Spookers is strictly 16 and over.
Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park
If you would prefer to see some wildlife on your day out, then the Rotura Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park is a must visit. Here you will find animals off all kinds, from the wallabies, deer and sheep you would expect from New Zealand to the rainbow and brown trout of the pools to the huge variety of rare and native birds, lions, possums and kea. Plus, you can drink water from the pure, native spring and walk through the lushness of the bush.
Butterfly Creek
Another hot spot for the animal lover is Butterfly Creek, Manukau. Here you will find giant saltwater crocodiles (the only ones in New Zealand), a butterfly house that is home to over 600 tropical varieties of butterfly, reptiles of every size and shape, cotton top tamarins and giant wetapunga. As the whole park is covered, you don't need to worry about the weather, so it is a round the year destination.
Bay of Plenty – unbeatable New Zealand sightseeing  

Bay of Plenty, lying on New Zealand's north eastern coast, is surely one of the most aptly named resorts on the planet. With spectacular views overlooking the Pacific Ocean, its sandy beaches have been a magnet for visitors for a long time. Many Kiwis from elsewhere in New Zealand don't even consider traveling abroad for their breaks when they have this jewel on their doorstep.
The main city of Bay of Plenty is Tauranga. This is located at the entrance to one of the country's largest natural harbours. It also lies at the foot of Mount Maunganui, sacred to the Maori, but also a universally renowned scenic spot for walkers. Nearby, the coastal towns of Papamoa and Mount Maunganui are extremely popular locations for beach holidays. There are numerous outdoor attractions, with every conceivable watersport catered for, from fishing and scuba diving to kayaking and wind-surfing.
Bay of Plenty has naturally fertile soil. Together with the temperate climate, this makes the region the perfect location for the cultivation of mouth-watering fruit and vegetables. Amongst the many fresh species available are grapes, citrus fruits and avocados. Bay of Plenty is also the location where New Zealand cultivates most of its kiwifruit crop.
The area is proud of its Maori heritage. Much of the landscape is steeped in indigenous history and peppered with sacred spots, such as the Papamoa Hills, Maketu and Mauao. For anyone interested in the irresistible combination of history and beautiful geography, there are numerous locations to explore. There are guided tours to many of the so-called ‘pa', or fortified villages, with Mount Maunganui (translating as ‘caught in the light of day') an excellent place for both sightseeing and appreciating ancient history.
Papamoa Hills Cultural Heritage regional park is another significant site, with 10 ancient village locations that are amongst New Zealand's oldest. Walking tracks criss-crossing this area provide uniformly breathtaking views.
If you are looking for activities that are more interactive, Bay of Plenty offers a diversity of outdoor pursuits. Its exceptionally rich marine environment is an open invitation for exploration. You can choose from swimming with dolphins to fishing for a variety of species that include snapper, kingfish and marlin. Another landmark to look out for is White Island. This is New Zealand's sole active marine volcano, lying off the Whakatane coast. Easily accessible by either boat or from the air, you can embark on regular guided tours of the volcano, exploring the surrounding island as well as taking breathtaking glimpses over the edge of its active crater.

New Zealand's fine heritage of pop music  
New Zealand has a longstanding love affair with pop music. This can be traced right back to the 1940s, when a song called 'Blue Smoke' was released by Ruru Karatiana - originally penned while onboard a wartime troop ship. This was re-recorded in 1949 by Pixie Williams, eventually achieving triple Platinum status after remaining at number one in New Zealand's charts for six weeks.
In the next few decades the country's pop scene rapidly gained momentum. 1962 saw the birth of New Zealand's first TV show dedicated to pop music. Entitled 'In The Groove' this commenced in Auckland before moving on to other regional channels. This was followed by several other examples, such as 'C'mon' and 'On the Beat', both of which were introduced by Australian journalist and TV personality Peter Sinclair. These early highly-popular TV shows were the birthplace of many of New Zealand's talented pop sensations, such as Sandy Edmonds.
The 1970s and 1980s saw a boom in Kiwi pop music as this genre began to get away from being a purely chart-orientated pastime. Serious musicians began to write catchy songs. The brothers Neil and Tim Finn achieved success with the rock band Split Enz, before going on to form the internationally-acclaimed Crowded House. Popular with fans and critics alike, the Finns received considerable accolades, culminating in their 1993 OBE from Queen Elizabeth II for their contribution to their native land's musical landscape.
There have been many other successful New Zealand pop performers, and the highest-selling pop tune ever was ‘How Bizarre' by OMC, or Otara Millionaires Club. (There was considerable irony in that choice of title as Otara happens to be one of Auckland's poorest suburbs!) As well as reaching number one in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Canada and Ireland in 1996, this toe-tapping ditty spent more than 36 weeks in the USA Billboard Hot 100 airplay charts.
In more recent years, local singer Kimbra achieved international success with his collaboration with the Belgian Australian singer Gotye on the quirky hit ‘Somebody That I Used To Know'. This was a 2011 chart topper in Britain, Australia, America and many other international charts, reaching the top 10 in amore than 30 countries. To date this has sold in excess of 13 million copies across the globe, making it one of the highest-selling digital singles ever.
Earlier this year, Lorde, a talented 17-year-old singer-songwriter from Auckland, has been the latest young New Zealand sensation to achieve international recognition. After receiving a plethora of accolades she jointly won the 2013 Silver Scroll award - an annual achievement for New Zealand pop music songwriting. She is also four-times Grammy-nominated.
News of Zealand celebs  
New Zealand's ever-reliable celebrities have been keeping their names in the limelight. Take Alan John 'A J' Hackett, the intrepid entrepreneur who popularised bungee jumping. His penchant for plummeting to the earth from great heights, relying on a thin elastic strip, has certainly seen him dicing with death on more than one occasion. The Kiwi who famously launched himself from the Eiffel Tower in 1987 recently had a more mundane but equally terrifying mishap. Driving with his wife, Amanda, and three stepchildren to their Hawke's Bay home, he was faced with oncoming headlights as just ahead a car wrecklessly overtook a truck. With seconds to react, Hackett managed to steer his Toyota Caldina station-wagon away from a head-on collision, flipping the vehicle in the process. Fortunately his family all managed to scramble safely away while A J, proud survivor of numerous death-defying jumps, escaped with broken ankles.
Bubbly TV personality Aroha Hathway, used to grilling interviewees on camera, has courageously revealed her own innermost secrets. Facing her own demons, she has revealed her diagnosis with bipolar disorder (manic depression), the fact she was subjected to cruel taunts as an obese teenager, and her experience of childhood sexual abuse. Asked about her mental condition recently, she stated: “There are many issues I can talk about. I've always been vocal about mental illness because it's a silent killer. It goes unnoticed and if people don't get help, it can be very dangerous”.
New Zealand's Got Talent semi-finalist Natasha Alexandra may have been temporarily unhappy with mixed reviews of her performance last week, but she is used to adversity. Her self-penned song Last Monday, which has taken the 17-year-old all the way to the contest's penultimate hurdle, is actually about the relentless bullying she suffered at school.
The Aucklander was targeted by a group of girls, then subjected to verbal and finally physical abuse. She retreated into songwriting. Facing the problem head-on, and using her lyrics to confront the idiots who made her life a misery, has been cathartic. Her father restricted her access to social media – so often the tool of choice for anonymous cowards. Instead of agonising over Facebook posts Natasha would head for Karekare Beach in Waitakere, guitar in tow, and find the inspiration to compose her fantastic tunes.
Despite her recent performance being criticized by judge Cris Judd for being 'too pitchy', she has vowed to continue channeling her proud spirit into her music. As Natasha said: “It was a horrible experience, but I'm kind of glad it happened because I wrote some really good songs during that time. Music was my emotional outlet and I don't really know what I would have done without it”.
New Zealand's unrivalled skiing resorts  
One of the key attractions that New Zealand has to offer for thousands of annual visitors is its exceptional ski resorts. The combination of crisp mountain air, sunny days and unbeatable views, not to mention superb after-ski leisure activities, is simply irresistible. If you have never traveled to New Zealand before but are keen to get in on the action, here are the key points you should know about New Zealand skiing.
New Zealand is split into five international ski areas, and has also become the largest heli-skiing area outside of North America. The South Island boasts Lake Wanaka, widely regarded as one of the most exciting places to experience skiing or snowboarding on the South Island. Within Lake Wanaka there are three ski areas that are regarded as being world class: Snow Farm, Cardrona Alpine Resort and Treble Cone. As well as these locations, Coronet Peak and The Remarkables mountain range are less than an hour away.
The available options include family-friendly skiing, overseen by fully experienced instructors, gentle cross-country touring, or for the more intrepid skiers, white-knuckle rides off-piste. Whatever your choice of winter pursuit, there are various booking options. There are passes that will give you the flexibility to visit several areas, with one particular eight ski pass enabling participants to ski across a massive 2,200 hectares of lift-serviced ski terrain. In addition, these passes also grant the holders admission to various other attractions.
Cardrona Alpine Resort
A short 30-minute drive from Wanaka, Cardrona is ideal for both beginners or intermediate-level skiers. As well as boasting on-site accommodation, there is also a skiing and snowboarding school. Cardrona is known as New Zealand's best skiing resort for kids.
Snow Farm
Snow farm offers New Zealand's only cross-country slopes, catering for skiers of every level. There is also on site accommodation.
Treble Cone
Also a short distance from Wanaka, Treble Cone's skiing areas are traditionally less-crowded than other resorts. Its off-piste terrain is exceptional, as are the views. It also boasts the longest vertical rise to be found anywhere in the southern lakes.
The Remarkables
When they are not doubling up as spectacular scenery in the Lord of the Rings films, the Remarkables, a mere 60-minute jaunt from Wanaka, are a terrific choice for fledgling skiers, youngsters and entire families. The resort has a terrific relaxed atmosphere and guarantees a truly alpine experience.
Coronet Peak
This resort provides fantastic downward slopes for all levels of skier. In addition, after the skis have been stacked away at the close of the day, the entertainment is fantastic, with regular live music.
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