Eveline Harvey is nzherald.co.nz's travel editor.

A Playboy mansion in Rotorua - must be April Fool's

In an April Fool's prank conducted under the cover of darkness, cars wrapped in cling film greeted residents of inner-city Melbourne this morning.

At least 28 vehicles that were parked outside shopping malls, railway stations and in sought-after residential areas fell victim to the phantom wrappers, according to news website heraldsun.com.au.

"There was a Holden ute outside Coles in Clarendon St that has been wrapped from top to bottom, even the tyres, the bonnet and the doors," motorist James Rzan told the Herald Sun.

"I think somebody has lost their marbles, it's one out of the box for sure."

The note on the ute reportedly read: "Happy April Fools Day love Evie."

A police spokesperson told the Herald Sun the cling-wrapping incidents weren't being investigated by police as there had been no damage to vehicles.

April Fool's Day pranks in New Zealand have been few and far between in recent years.

In fact, one of this country's best-documented hoaxes dates back to April 1, 1949, when 1ZB host Phil Shone used his radio programme to announce that a plague of wasps was heading towards Auckland.

"Lock your doors and put out jam as a peace offering," he suggested to listeners, who responded by making panicked calls to the police.

The prank was denounced by the New Zealand Broadcasting Service, which reminded radio stations of their obligation to report the truth, and nothing but the truth.

And the truth has - on the whole - prevailed, though a number of press releases received by nzherald.co.nz this week have attempted to pull the wool over our eyes.

Rotorua Tourism released a statement announcing that Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner had brokered a deal with the Rotorua Museum Centennial Trust to convert part of the Rotorua Museum into a Playboy holiday mansion.

The statement said Hefner set his sights on the central North Island town after reading research in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which linked hydrogen sulphide - the gas that gives Rotorua its rotten egg smell - and male sexual arousal.

He was also, the statement continued, excited by the architectural similarities between the museum and the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles and upon learning from local real estate agents that the Rotorua Centennial Trust had a $900,000 shortfall in the final development stage, he contacted trust chairman Lyall Thurston.

"While I thought the research findings would attract a lot of international interest from men looking to improve their sexual performance, I never expected a call from the man responsible for the sexual revolution of the 60s," Lyall said.

The statement then points readers to the Rotorua Tourism website, which is hosting a video interview with Hefner.

Another press release announced that the Auckland Harbour Bridge was to be renamed the InterCity.co.nz Harbour Bridge after InterCity Coachlines reportedly beat a "large number of interested parties" to win the naming rights for the next five years, commencing today.

Corporate sponsorships of other New Zealand roads and bridges - including State Highway 1 and the Kopu Bridge - were due to be announced later in the month, the statement concluded.

Five of the best April Fool's pranks of recent years

The left-handed burger - 1998: Fast food chain Burger King took out a full-page advertisement in USA Today announcing a new addition to its menu: The left-handed Whopper. Although the ingredients were the same as in a traditional Whopper, the condiments had been rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of left-handed customers, the advertisement said.

Flying penguins - 2008: Last year, the BBC announced that camera crews filming near the Antarctic had captured footage of flying Adelie penguins. Presenter Terry Jones - he of Monty Python fame - explained to viewers that the penguins flew thousands of miles to the rainforests of South America, where they spent the winter "basking in the tropical sun". There was even a video of the flying penguins to convince the fiercest sceptics:

Metric time - 1975: Australia's This Day Tonight programme announced that the country would be converting to "metric time". Under the new system, the programme reported, there would be 100 seconds per minute, 100 minutes per hour and 20 hours in a day. The terms "seconds", "minutes" and "hours" were also being done away with, the programme reported, in favour of the terms "millidays", "centidays" and "decidays".

The 26-day marathon - 1981: Japanese runner Kimo Nakajimi was an entrant in the London Marathon, according to the Daily Mail, but due to a translation error, he mistakenly believed he had to run for 26 days, not 26 miles. The newspaper reported that Nakajimi had been spotted by various people as he ran through England, but no one had been able to flag him down. Timothy Bryant was named by the Daily Mail as the man responsible for the translation error: "I translated the rules and sent them off to him. But I have only been learning Japanese for two years, and I must have made a mistake," he was quoted as saying.

Whistling carrots - 2002: An advertisement placed in British tabloid The Sun by the supermarket chain Tesco, announced the development of carrots with tapered airholes in their sides. When fully cooked, the advertisement claimed, the carrots began to whistle.

* And yes, a couple of nzherald.co.nz's bloggers had a bit of fun today. Matt Kennedy-Good wrote about Earth Hour in Helsinki; and Mark Webster delivered the news that Microsoft had bought Apple.

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