1. Rising Sun, 373 K Rd, Newton: An awesome combination of sophisticated pub and lounge bar. Afro-Cuban rhythms, live soul singers and cool old op-shop furniture.

2. Minus 5, Princes Wharf, City: The name of this vodka bar is accurate - it's made entirely of ice and is kept at sub-zero temperatures. You get coat and mittens and to keep the temperatures low, it's only 25 or so patrons - paying the $20 cover charge - at a time.

3. Orchid, 152b Ponsonby Rd: You will find professional bar staff, fruity cocktails and lots of designer-clad Ponsonby-ites socialising until the wee hours at this gorgeous new bar.


4. Winos On Lorne, 2 Lorne St, City: Perfect spot for an after-work drink with friends. Of 150 wines on the list, you can try 40 by the glass. Discreet music and grown-up ambience.

5. Chic, Princes Wharf, City: Close your eyes and you can imagine you're lolling on an Indian rooftop terrace at this small, intimate and classy bar.


1. The Caretaker, by Harold Pinter: It may be nearly 45 years old, but Pinter's drama remains pungent, disturbing and witty. Featuring seasoned Pinter player Michael Lawrence, alongside David Aston and Edward Newborn. At Maidment Studio.

2. One Shot, by Mark Kilmurry: One-man drama about Charlie Murray, a Travis "Taxi Driver" Bickle type made doubly dangerous by his obsession with the man who played him, Robert De Niro. At Herald Theatre.

3. Sleeping Beauty On Ice, with the Imperial Russian Ice Stars: Classic fairy tale is given the bladerunner treatment, with dazzling - and dangerous-looking - skills married to kitsch costuming you could spot from outer space. Good family entertainment. At the Civic.

4. Miniatures, directed by Malia Johnston: two contemporary dance works described as "live snakes and ladders". At Tapac Theatre, Motions Rd, Western Springs.

5. Spreading Out, by Roger Hall: A brilliantly bitter-sweet sequel (25 years later) to Hall's Middle Age Spread. It's just as funny but also causes lasting ruminations on ageing. At SkyCity Theatre.


1. Auckland Museum: Peter Stichbury - Survey of a Pioneer New Zealand Studio Potter: first major survey of one of the country's leading potters; Decorative Arts Gallery West.

2. Reef Gallery, 86 Symonds St: New work by Mahiriki Tangaroa in a new gallery set up to support Pacific Island artists, featuring striking oil paintings by Tangaroa, who curated at Cook Island National Museum for three years. Entry is via De Lucas Cafe.

3. Whitespace, 1 Morgan St, Newmarket: I went out wandering, looking for one good man, by Pete Wheeler, young Dunedin artist whose work marries media awareness, global politics and grunge.

4. John Leech Gallery, Khartoum Place: Domestic Bliss, by Michael Smither, masterly handling of colour and light gives everyday subjects a timeless quality.

5. Bath St Gallery, 43 Bath St, Parnell: Light of Colour, by Leon van den Eijkel, a series of bright, Pacific-coloured paintings, but the real impact comes in a huge, inventive installation using 25 polished barbecues.


1. The Streets A Grand Don't Come for Free (Locked On/Warner): Triumphant second album from one-man Brit-hop band Mike Skinner powered by his gripping monologues about his day from hell, delivered over unfussy, delicate DIY backings.

2. Jolie Holland Escondida (Shock): Creepy, weird and earthy country-blues songs from Texas singer-songwriter of sad sweet voice, here on her second album.

3. PJ Harvey Uh Huh Her (Island): Following the user-friendly sound of Harvey's last Stories of the City, Stories of the Sea, her latest returns to the spare, raw and guttural sound of earlier times, mixing punk-blues screechers and some darkly lovely songs.

4. The Icarus Line Penance Soiree (FMR/V2): Aggressive Los Angeles art-rock outfit on compelling second album of many incongruous influences.

5. Scissor Sisters Scissor Sisters (Universal): Camp New York quintet offer witty disco-rock freak-out, including a queer-eye cover of Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb.


1. In America: Old-fashioned heartwarmer about a family of illegal Irish immigrants battling to make a go of it in New York.

2. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: The last bit. The one that won 11 Oscars. You may have heard of it. Made locally, apparently. And if you think the DVD has five different endings, you're wrong, the movie was like that too.

3. Underworld: Horror action flick of vampires, werewolves, genetic engineering, Kate Beckinsale and State of Play's Bill Nighy doing his best Christopher Lee impression.

4. The Last Samurai: Tom Cruise's stirring East-meets-Western. Using the pause button, you might see Uncle Roger's Taranaki farm in the background.

5. Scary Movie 3: Third of the spoof series which takes aim at films such as Signs and The Ring.