One word that sums up the entire year: Disaster

By Jeremy Rees

Herald online readers liked disasters in 2007.

You clicked on anything that suddenly shook us up, from the Ruapehu eruption to Northland floods and, just before Christmas, the Gisborne earthquake.

And don't mention that other disaster that befell the nation: the debacle on the rugby field at Cardiff really got people going.

The number one most-clicked-on item last year was the Ruapehu eruption.

According to figures compiled from traffic to nzherald.co.nz, this was the single biggest drawcard of 2007. Readers avidly read the stories and worked their way through all the photos and videos of when the lahar came crashing down Ruapehu's slopes on September 25, injuring a climber.

The single biggest story, though, was the debate that flared after the All Blacks lost in the quarter-final of the Rugby World Cup to France.

The numbers are still staggering - 5327 people posted their thoughts on why the All Blacks lost, amounting to 1066 pages of debate on our site.

And the emails keep rolling in. Last weekend a further 10 people took part in the debate.

Just behind the Your Views debate on the All Blacks were all the

photos of the 18-20 loss

In fact, the rugby World Cup, despite being the All Blacks' worst showing in the 20-year history of the cup, accounted for five of the top 10 most popular items on the site. Another in the top 10 was a photo gallery of what we dubbed the All Blacks' "unusual training methods" as they splashed their way through water exercises before admiring tourists at their hotel base in Marseille.

Unfortunately, just behind that was the story of the All Blacks arriving home defeated and a run of stories speculating on when (or, as it turned out, if) a new coach would be named.

At number four on the most read items on the site was the Northland floods coverage in July. The very next day, you stayed tuned to the Herald online to read about the damage in Auckland when the storm progressed down the country.

For a little light relief, you were fascinated by the lunar eclipse in August, with dozens of New Zealanders sending in their photos of the eclipse to the site, making the photo gallery the sixth most looked at item of 2007.

Rounding out the top 10 was the Gisborne earthquake, with the coverage of the terror raids in October just behind.

Other items that grabbed your interest online?

* The "Pumpkin case" and the hunt for the father of Qian Xun Xue, left abandoned in a Melbourne train station.

* Christmas lights from around the world.

* The Taranaki tornadoes.

* Doug Howlett's post-World Cup bender.

* Justin Timberlake coming to New Zealand.

* The sacking of Auckland University lecturer Paul Buchanan after an email exchange with a tardy student.

And anything to do with sharks. Mention the s-word and readers turn to it. The biggest of the shark stories for 2007 was the amazing photos taken by a South African wildlife photographer, headlined "It's 5m long, weighs 2000kg and it's hungry".

In Entertainment, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and the now-deceased Anna Nicole Smith were the most popular names.

But when it came to debating issues through Your Views, you turned largely to the serious side, taking time out from discussing the All Black coach to debate living standards in Australia and New Zealand, the police justification for the terror raids, the Electoral Finance Bill and whether the sacked lecturer Paul Buchanan should keep his job.

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