Great Barrier Island can be bleak at this time of the year, but it's being promoted as a tropical paradise - and a place where you could meet the man or woman of your dreams.
The idea started life as a way of raising funds for the Tryphena netball team. The group of 12 women were sick of playing the island's only other team in Okiwi and started eyeing up competition further afield. They had their sights set on a game against a team from Waiheke Island, but couldn't afford the travel costs.
"People in town experience a different match every week and we really miss out," wing attack Michelle Hartley-Scott says.
"We put our thinking caps on and decided to do a quiz night with a roast meal every Sunday."
A fundraiser called the "Barrier's Biggest Loser," is helping. Contestants pay $2 each week to take part in a weigh in, with the person losing the most weight receiving a prize.
"By the end of the season everyone will look hot," Ms Hartley-Scott says.
It was her fellow team member, goal keep Mary Williams, who came up with the idea of the singles weekend.
"I thought 'singles weekend' sounded seedy and suggested we call it 'Partners in Paradise' instead. It's less intimidating."
Auckland Council got on board - seeing it as a way to promote the Barrier in winter. A website was set up and a "Love Boat" themed photo shoot was arranged.
Guests can fly or cruise to the island by boat on Friday August 3 and book accommodation at wherever takes their fancy.
A buffet dinner will be held at the Tryphena Social Club and hypnotist Tony Banfield will provide entertainment. Guests needn't be nervous - his website says nobody will be tricked into performing "unsavoury acts".
"We've never had a hypnotist on the Barrier before," Ms Hartley-Scott says. "We thought it'd be a bit of a laugh and lighten the mood."
Then it's on to the serious business: speed dating, before a night of dancing and karaoke kicks off.
The next day activities include pig hunting around Sugar Loaf, a "romantic" bush walk to Kaitoke hot springs, golf at Whangaparapara, paint balling at Possum Lodge, horse riding and fishing. There are also art classes featuring a nude model and a session at Pamper Palace, where massage, light colour therapy, tarot reading, and reflexology are amongst the feel-good activities available.
Ms Hartley-Scott says an Auckland woman will pose for the art class which is about "appreciation of the human body in the female form, confidence and self esteem - not 'lets go and look at someone's boobs'."
The night finishes off with dinner at the Tryphena Club, where local covers band Beatz Working will perform.
Ms Hartley-Scott is happily married and has lived on the island for 23 years. "My husband John had a flushing toilet - it was a drawcard," she says, but knows it's difficult being single on the Barrier.
"There's lots of eligible people, but it's like family... you can never get away . There's only a few pubs and shops."
She says the media have a habit of stereotyping female islanders as "hairy legged" and males as "dope smoking, beer swilling, toothless old drunks," but in reality they were "driven, well rounded people."
"We're not having manicures every day but we definitely look after ourselves."
Partners in Paradise
WHEN August 3-5.
WHERE Great Barrier Island
HOW MUCH $165, including some activities and discounted travel and accommodation options.
CONTACT Mary Williams on (09) 4290963 or email email@example.com
WIN TICKETS AT http://tinyurl.com/partnersinparadise
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Star sign: Leo
Children 2, aged 28 & 34
What have you studied? Life
Favourite musician David Bowie
Last CD purchased: Station to Station, David Bowie
Favourite date film: The Notebook
Favourite food: Thai - spicy!
Tipple of choice: Sparkling wine
People admired: Angelina Jolie, for her work with children from poor countries and her commitment to family. Helen Clark. Strong, gritty determined woman.
Interests, sports and hobbies: Animals (especially horses), gardening, films, travel and long bush and beach walks.
A typical night out on the island for me: Movies and dinners with friends and family.
Best thing about Great Barrier? Living close to family and friends in a unspoilt, natural environment surrounded by good, down to earth people who all know each other.
What I am looking for: A down to earth, kind, strong and motivated man with a great sense of humour who likes animals and who is a great kisser and likes to cuddle.
Star sign: Cancer
What have you studied? Sports
Job: Barman and teacher aide
Favourite musician: The Stone Roses
Last CD: Kasabian
Favourite date film: Taxi Driver
Favourite food: Indian
Tipple of choice: Wild Turkey
People admired: Mohammad Ali - absolute legend. Noam Chomsky - brilliant mind and inspiration.
Interests, sports and hobbies: Football and travel
Typical night out on the island: Working at the Irish pub
Best thing about Great Barrier? The people are special and friendly
What I am looking for: Cute with a great sense of humour
Star sign Aquarius
What have you studied? Engineering and landscape gardening
Favourite musician: Split Enz
Last CD: A-Z Beer Drinking Songs
Favourite date film: Bad Taste
Favourite food: Pasta dishes
Tipple of choice Vodka and Red Bull
People admired: Robert Buckminster-Fuller - inspirational architect, Fidel Castro - A true leader, gentleman and man of principle.
Interests, sports and hobbies: Flying (I have a pilot licence), scuba diving, para-gliding and fishing.
Typical night out on the island : Tequila sunrises in the spa pool, smoking cigars, listening to ZZ Top and performing air-guitar in my smoking jacket and slippers.
Best thing about Great Barrier? Sense of independence and clean living in a pristine natural environment
What I am looking for: A companion to share doing life's things with and will put up with my bad jokes.
Star sign: Scorpio
What have you studied? Media Comm Cert
Job: Cook at Great Barrier Social Club
Favourite musician: CSS
Last CD purchased: Donkey - CSS
Favourite date film:Blue Valentine
Favourite food: Chocolate, chocolate and chocolate - in that order
Tipple of choice: Bourbon
People admired: My nana - she rocks!
Interests, sports and hobbies: Netball, cooking, running, reading, movies
Typical night out on the island for me: Hanging out with friends at the island's Social Club
Best thing about Great Barrier? The people and the ocean and coastline
What I am looking for: Someone honest and stable with a job, would be nice.
Age: Don't be nosy
Star sign: Aquarius
What have you studied? Men and Barrier survival
Job: Cook and admin work
Favourite musicians: Foo Fighters
Last CD purchased: Crooked Vultures
Favourite date film: The Holiday
Favourite food: I love all kinds of foods
Tipple of choice: Cocktails
People admired: My two daughters for surviving having me as a mother
Interests, sports and hobbies: Netball, cooking, fishing, travelling, bushwhacking with my chainsaw and going to the beach
Typical night out on the island for me: Movie night and drinking and dancing the night away with the girls at the Irish bar
Best thing about Great Barrier? The people - friendly and loving and there when you need them.
What I am looking for: Someone who makes me laugh, can use a chainsaw and likes to travel and can afford to pay for their own ticket!
Star sign: Leo
Study: Studying fashion at the moment
Fav Musician: Ecliptic
Last CD purchased; I-pod iTunes Katy Perry, Jesse J
Favourite date film: Bruno Mars, running man
Favourite food: Pizza
People admired: My sister Lucy because she is simply awesome.
Interests: Netball, sewing, scrabble
Typical night out on the island for me: At home sewing
Best thing about Great Barrier: Chilled out place.
What I am looking for: Honesty, humour, good looking, nice eyes and teeth, healthy looking.
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