Michael Campbell, 2005: Jekyll-and-Hyde golfer Michael Campbell began the year in awful form, but stunned the sports world and this nation by winning the US Open, one of the sport's celebrated four major titles. To do so he had to fend off a rather handy golfer named Tiger Woods, after the normally redoubtable Retief Goosen had blown his third-round lead at Pinehurst. As with all the best rags-to-riches golf stories, Campbell had to qualify for the tournament.
What happened next?: Campbell hasn't come close to troubling the giddy heights again. But who really cares, when you've won a major?
Dick Tayler, 1974: Tayler's out-of-the-blue 10,000m victory over a field that included English legend David Bedford, and the resulting joyous celebration - seen by many via recently arrived colour television - gave the fondly remembered Commonwealth Games in Christchurch a wonderful start. Tayler, one of Canterbury's favourite sons, later revealed his wife would lock the door and leave his training gear outside to ensure he kept on track with his preparation, a gruelling schedule of running up to 300km a week.
The element of surprise was heightened because New Zealand hardly dared dream that its precious Games might start so perfectly. Those images of delirious joy will never be forgotten by those of us lucky enough to have witnessed the victory by Tayler, who finished the year as the world's top-ranked 10,000m runner.
What happened next?: Just a year later, he was stricken with arthritis, his top-class athletics career over.
Kiwis, 1991: Bob Bailey's Kiwis were given no show of toppling the mighty Kangaroos in the first test of that year's league series. Instead, Bob's bits-and-pieces team smashed the Aussies to bits in Melbourne. The nation was in raptures and the game turbo-boosted the careers of young players such as Tawera Nikau and Jarrod McCracken, while ending those of some Aussies, including the legendary Wally Lewis. The crowd really did go wild and league players became celebs.
What happened next?: Put it this way - Australia don't take league test defeats lying down.
Beatrice Faumuina, 1997: After finishing 23rd in the discus at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Faumuina's only decent throw at the 1997 world championships in Greece won her gold. It was New Zealand's first world track and field gold medal, and brought Faumuina instant celebrity status in this country. She had triumphed by close to a metre, her other efforts being an average throw and four no-throws. The world, we thought, was her oyster.
What happened next?: Nothing to truly match this golden day on the world stage and sadly, a couple of controversies sullied Faumuina's image.
Kiwi, 1983: No, this isn't a movie script, but should be. The much-loved Kiwi was a $1000 stock horse turned galloper who won the Melbourne Cup. An outsider at 10-1, Kiwi - ridden by Jim Cassidy - triumphed in the great race with a withering burst down the home straight, having been near last at the turn. This is the ultimate horse racing underdog story - Kiwi was still used by his owner/trainer Snowy Lupton to round up sheep during his racing career.
What happened next?: Kiwi was controversially scratched amid allegations of Aussie dirty tricks in the next Melbourne Cup, and pulled up lame in another.
All Whites, 1980: New coach John Adshead's side dealt to Mexico at Bill McKinley Park. The remarkable 4-0 "friendly" victory over the respected central American team did not even warrant a national radio commentary, and the only live television coverage was to Mexico. This may have been the moment those history-in-the-making All Whites started to believe, even if the rest of us assumed it was a weird flash in the pan.
What happened next?: The magical qualification ride which took the team to the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain.
New Zealand hockey, 1976: Our most surprising Olympic gold medal. New Zealand had been Olympic hockey also-rans and despite good tournament form, were still heavy underdogs in the Montreal final against Australia. The Aussies had not lost to the Kiwis in 11 encounters, had won their most recent clash 5-0, and crushed mighty India 6-5. But win the New Zealanders did, via a Tony Ineson goal, after a halftime rocket from coach Ross Gillespie. Among the stars was goalkeeper Trevor Manning, who battled to the end with a broken kneecap. "Stunned unreality" is how one writer has described the nation's reaction.
What happened next?: Overly grand predictions for hockey were always going to fall short, but the sport has done reasonably well.
New Zealand cricket, 2011: Let's face it - a lot of New Zealand's test cricket victories are shock results. This was special though, breaking a 26-year duck in Australia. Terrific bowling from Doug Bracewell, playing in just his third test, led the way against an Australian team short of their highest standards, but still with a star-studded middle order. Bracewell snared Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey in the second innings, New Zealand survived a couple of decision review disappointments at the death, and Ross Taylor's unheralded outfit prevailed by seven runs in a finish involving the finest of sporting drama.
What happened next?: Within a year the Hobart triumph was all but forgotten as a new coach bladed captain Taylor.