Friends The Musical Parody
First came the reunion, now comes The Musical Parody. Actually, it's the other way around because The Musical Parody has been going for 10 years, and no one told you it was going to be this way.
Friends The Musical Parody is billed as an off-Broadway and Las Vegas smash-hit comedy, but whether that's off-Las Vegas as well isn't explained. Apparently, it was at The D, in East Fremont, which is a three-star casino and hotel off Fremont St.
In any event, the parody takes what's described as a "hilarious" look at Friends and remembers the television phenomenon that ruled the 1990s and became a cultural institution.
It follows the lives of the six wacky twenty-somethings (or by the time the series had finished, thirty-somethings) and goes back in time to celebrate and poke fun at some of their most iconic moments as they navigate the pitfalls of work, life and love in Manhattan at the time.
The show begins on an ordinary day at Central Perk with Ross, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe, Joey and Rachel, singing and dancing their way back into our hearts. Hopefully, they can get out of second gear long enough to nail the quirks, mannerisms and catchphrases captured by the television series.
All the cast are from New Zealand including members of the critically acclaimed tour of Madagascar The Musical. The original show for New Zealand was postponed last year because of the Covid lockdown so now you can book, and make your day, your month and even your year.
The tour starts in Hamilton on October 1, goes to Tauranga, it's on at Forum North in Whangārei on October 4 and in Kerikeri (Turner Centre) on October 5. It ends in Auckland at the Aotea on October 6.
A mid-winter superyacht ties up at Ōpua
You'd expect superyachts to come to New Zealand for the summer and you'd expect them to come for the America's Cup.
But the Cup was at least five months ago and now it's mid-winter. Yet here is the superyacht luxury motor cruiser Mimi holed up at Opua Wharf in the Bay of Islands.
Mimi (formerly Andreas L and formerly Amnesia) came from Europe via Panama, then Baquerizo Monreno and Isle Baltra in Ecuador for a few hours each and arrived three weeks later in Papeete, where she stayed for nearly six hours for refuelling.
She then motored to Ōpua and arrived about 10pm on July 15. Her crew have been in quarantine since then, waiting for their Covid clearance.
She is impressive by any standard. Built in 2008 in Italy by Azimut S.P.A. Viareggio Boatyard, the exterior architecture was designed by Stefano Natucci. She is 60m long and the refreshed interior (last refitted in 2019) was designed by the London-based studio of Redman Whiteley Dixon.
Notable features include the generous sundeck (which measures over half the yacht's length and comes complete with a jacuzzi), sun pads, a gym, a massage room, a beauty salon and a swim-up bar.
A hydraulic platform folds down to create a swimming platform.
It goes almost without saying that her interior is luxurious. She has six double cabins for 12 guests. There's a master suite on the main deck forward that is private, with its own lounge.
The inside has earthy tones and (according to one charter website) "crisp white furnishings complemented by blue accents" which are "perfect for stylish family getaways".
She has a cruising speed of 15 knots (28km/h) and a top speed of 16 knots driven from two 1600hp Caterpillar engines. There is a crew of 16 to keep all who sail in her ship-shape, and includes the 20 "socialising guests" she can cater for.
Mimi is registered in Douglas, capital of the Isle of Man and, as Andreas L, she was owned by Liveras Yachts of Monaco but it's not known if they own her now. She was listed for sale (as Andreas L) at NZ$37,122,000.
She is available for charter from NZ$537,000 a week in the low season (which is presumably winter around the Pacific) to NZ$586,000 in the high season.
In the meantime, anchoring at Opua wharf means mid-winter business for the marina.
Translocating kākāriki and wētāpunga
Project Island Song has been translocating kākāriki to Ipipiri. There were two translocations a few days apart in July and Richard Robbins, general manager for Project Island Song, said the second day was by far the hardest so far.
"It was due to the terrible weather, which caused delays and made catching very difficult, and without the dedication of the translocation team working incredibly hard on Te Hauturu-o-Toi-Little Barrier Island, the release would never have been possible."
There was a team of 12 experienced translocations volunteers who included hapu kaimahi from Rawhiti. They safely released 18 kākāriki onto Urupukapuka on July 18.
Kākāriki are New Zealand's native parakeet and, according to Forest & Bird, they like to stand out not only from the foliage but also from one another. There are two varieties, both have red and yellow crowns and one has blue streaks on their wings, while another has an orange bib.
The first reintroduction, in 2017, has been successful and kākāriki are frequently seen and heard on Moturua. The second reintroduction was carried out to help enhance the genetic diversity of the founder population.
"As kākāriki are very mobile they will start moving to the mainland, so keeping pests under control on the mainland is very important," said Robbins.
In June, Project Island Song also released 81 almost fully grown wētāpunga (the heavyweight of the insect world) onto Ipipiri Islands. They were bred at Auckland Zoo and were reinforcements to the first release of a larger number of much younger wētāpunga released in December.
Geographically, the islands – Urupukapuka, Moturua and Motuarohia – are at the northernmost limit of the taonga species' historic range and their regenerating forest habitats provide food and refuge for them to thrive. The threatened species is the first invertebrate to be released onto the pest-free islands.
Found only in Aotearoa, wētāpunga have been around for over 190 million years, and were once widespread throughout Te Tai Tokerau Northland, Auckland and their islands including Aotea (Great Barrier), but due to introduced predators decreased until they were naturally found on only Te Hauturu-o-Toi (Little Barrier).
New sports centre takes shape
More than 160 timber foundation piles will be driven, then the floor and swimming pool shells will be constructed.
It's part of the new Te Hiku Sports Hub under construction in Kaitaia. The construction company, Far North Roading, will soon mark out the site before grass and topsoil are excavated. Tangible progress will then be seen on the indoor aquatic centre, gym and sporting clubrooms.
Early in 2022, steel building frames will go up and a PVC roof and ceiling will be installed. Cladding and joinery will be added so internal work can begin. At the same time power, water and wastewater services and improvements to existing infrastructure will be installed.
The Te Hiku Sports Hub Board secured a $3 million Provincial Growth Fund grant for the work. There was $1.1 million from Foundation North, $1.4 million from Northland Regional Council/Sport Northland and $500,000 from Lotteries. The Far North District Council is contributing $3 million to the project.
Big jump in visitor numbers
In the weekly newsletter The Weekender, Far North District Council CEO Shaun Clarke said visitors to the Far North district increased considerably since the Government opened the travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia.
According to Clarke, the i-Sites saw a 229 per cent increase in visitors in May compared with the same period in 2020 – 13,316 up from 4037. Retail revenue climbed 263 per cent in the same period with spending at the i-Sites at $7815, up from $2150 in May last year.
However, New Zealand was still in semi-lockdown mode in May last year, which meant tourist spending would be well down for that period. The country's borders were closed on March 19, 2020, and were progressively lifted on April 28, May 11, May 25 and June 8.
Clarke said evidence suggests Australians are booking tours to the Far North, while domestic visitors to the region have also increased. Among the most popular bookings at the Paihia i-Site are trips to the Hole in the Rock, parasailing, fishing, wine tours and trips to Cape Reinga.
But according to a recent NZ Herald report, in the three months since the return of quarantine-free travel with Australia, it is largely New Zealanders from urban centres still driving local spend rather than Australian visitors who remain cautious of overseas travel.
Wellington research firm Dot Loves Data delved into the eftpos and credit card spend since the opening of the transtasman bubble and unearthed the changes in where and how travellers are spending their holidays.
They found that overall, the favourite destination for Aucklanders is the Coromandel closely followed by the Far North, Tauranga, Whangārei, with Queenstown trailing Rotorua, Kaipara and Taupo.
• Email Sandy Myhre at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any news you'd like to see in Bay News.