Internet mogul, Kiwi heroes and the odd quirky story lead the headlines for print and online readers.

Kim Dotcom and a spate of natural disasters have been among the most popular topics with New Zealand Herald readers this year, a list of the 20 most-read online stories has revealed.

Topics for the year's top 20 ranged from internet hackers to eels in places where they shouldn't be, but there have definitely been some standout trends.

The Dotcom saga has proved fascinating for Kiwis, dominating a quarter of the top 20.

Following months of controversy, which started with the illegal police raid on Dotcom's mansion at the start of the year, the New Zealand Herald revealed the Mega Upload founder's internet connection was being diverted inside New Zealand weeks before the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) says it began spying on him.


A whopping 322,261 people read the October 5 story Suspicion over Dotcom net glitch, making it the most-read story of the year with almost twice as many views as the next on the list.

Other items of interest in the series included a promise of free broadband to all New Zealanders, a bungled court order that resulted in an unlawful seizure of Dotcom's property and an apparent FBI double-cross "coup".

Dotcom was even accused of assault with his stomach, which was then touted as justification for the use of anti-terrorist officers in the raid on his house.

Six stories claiming spots in the top 20 indicate that New Zealanders have been following Dotcom's every move.

The stories gained a fair amount of global attention as well.

Number two was January's Carterton balloon crash.

A week into the new year, 11 people were killed when the hot air balloon they were travelling in caught fire and dropped into a paddock in Carterton.

Balloon crash: "It's burst into flames and they're dead" was read by 189,689 people, making it the second most-read story on the New Zealand website this year.

Natural disasters in New Zealand garnered their fair share of clicks.

Stories about Mt Tongariro's November eruption and a recent tornado in Hobsonville that killed three people took three of the top spots.

An earthquake felt across the country in July was 10th most popular on the list.

When a man got an eel stuck up his bum in September, it sparked unprecedented amounts of attention. The story stayed on the most popular list for days and was the fifth most-read story on the site for the year.

Few sports stories made the top 20, but two Olympic stories managed to sneak in.

A breakdown of events for Kiwis competing in the London Olympics stitched up third place and Australia piggybacking on the New Zealand medal count proved popular at number 19.

In other news, a total of 130,010 people read how a group of internet users helped track down a hacker who destroyed a Kiwi website, and a haka comrades performed for three Kiwi soldiers killed in Afghanistan was another favourite, collecting 130,335 hits.

Celebrated New Zealanders Bret McKenzie and the late Greg King were on the list too: the former for his Academy Award glory and the latter for the revelation the criminal defence lawyer had received bad health news before his death.

Rebecca Kamm's comment piece on a G-spot injection that purportedly enhances orgasms caught the attention of 109,702 readers. And Sonny Bill Williams' kiss with Jaime Ridge after knocking out boxing opponent Clarence Tillman III got close to 100,000 hits.

The top 20 stories
1 Suspicion over Dotcom net glitch
October 5 - NZ Herald
2 Balloon crash: "It's burst into flames and they're dead"
January 7 - NZ Herald/APNZ/Wairarapa Times-Age
3 Kiwis in action - See when our athletes compete
August 12 - Herald Online
4 Dotcom: We've hit the jackpot
November 24 - NZ Herald
5 Hospital removes eel from man's bum
September 23 - Herald on Sunday
6 Police court order Dotwrong
March 18 - NZ Herald
7 Dotcom accused of assault with his stomach
August 14 - NZ Herald
8. Lawyer received bad health news
November 5 - NZ Herald

9. Mt Tongariro eruption code red
August 7 - Herald Online/APNZ
10. Large earthquake felt across NZ
July 3 - NZ Herald
11. Soldier's farewell haka footage goes viral
August 28 - Herald Online
12. Internet avengers track down mean-spirited hacker
August 1 - NZ Herald
13. Three dead after Auckland Tornado
December 6 - Herald Online/APNZ/NZ Herald
14 Dotcom's broadband plan
November 4 - Herald on Sunday
15 Rebecca Kamm: The $2250 orgasm injection
October 26 - Herald Online
16 Oscar gold for Conchord Bret
February 27 - Herald Online
17 Dotcom judge quits the case
July 18 - NZ Herald
18 Sonny Bill's knockout kiss
February 9 - NZ Herald
19 Olympics: Aussies claim Kiwi successes for their own
August 6 - Herald Online
20 Mt Tongariro erupts: Sightseers warned off
November 21 - Herald Online/APNZ/NZ Herald