Where is New Zealand's best real estate for free sports viewing? The Herald on Sunday's sports team put their heads together to find ways to save on entry fees while enjoying the contest.

1 Track and field: Along the Auckland marathon course

Whether it's roadside at the start on Devonport's King Edward Parade, Narrowneck Beach, Hauraki Corner, the Viaduct, Tamaki Drive or the Victoria Park finish, each provides a prime position to see the country's best marathon runners and myriad stoic trundlers deliver on their hours of training. The highlights tend to involve seeing your mates suck in their guts and pretend they are belting out the yards at a Peter Snell-type clip when they spy you on the horizon. If you join the throng, you can add the Auckland harbour bridge to the panoramic views.

2 Rugby: Hovering over Counties-Manukau rugby in Pukekohe

Anyone purchasing property on the northern side of East St, Pukekohe gets a spectacular view of Ecolight Stadium. This was never better exemplified than on September 21, 2013 when the Herald on Sunday unveiled Philip and Judy Meyer watching from their deck in full Counties-Manukau regalia, and waving their flags in support of their side's first defence of the Ranfurly Shield. The pair had even nipped back early from the Whitianga scallop festival to be there. "We love watching the game roll from one end to the other," Philip said at the time. It rolled the Steelers way on that occasion, defeating Taranaki 44-7.

3 Rugby/Cricket/Football: Cruise liners peaking over the rim of Wellington's Cake Tin

The cruise liner Star Princess towering above the Westpac Trust Stadium in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The cruise liner Star Princess towering above the Westpac Trust Stadium in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell

When Tim Southee took his seven wickets for 33 runs against England in pool play during the 2015 Cricket World Cup, dozens of passengers absorbed the scenes from the top deck of a visiting cruise liner. Trigonometry experts might be required to verify how much of the ground they could see, but why venture out in such numbers otherwise? It's a shame a ship wasn't in residence a month later for the quarter-final against the West Indies when Martin Guptill was threatening the roof on his way to 237 not out, and Daniel "Air" Vettori took his famed one-handed catch of Marlon Samuels at third man.


4 Cricket : Apartments overlooking the Basin Reserve

People enjoy a free view of the Basin Reserve from nearby apartments in Wellington. Photo / Andrew Alderson
People enjoy a free view of the Basin Reserve from nearby apartments in Wellington. Photo / Andrew Alderson

In the second test between New Zealand and England in 2013, a seventh-storey suite in an apartment building on the corner of Kent Terrace and Ellice St provided the ultimate free corporate box. A Wellington insurance broker was hosting his mates when the Herald on Sunday visited in the lunchbreak.

"The only reason I moved in here was because I knew this game was coming," the owner said.

The venue was like New York's Studio 54, but basking in natural afternoon sunlight. Bluff oysters (flown in by the apartment owner's fisherman mate) and a decent batch of Pimm's kept guests nourished without prising open their wallets.

This reporter approached the apartment buzzer with trepidation but had the red carpet rolled out provided he met the initiation criteria: enjoy a drink and half a dozen of Foveaux Strait's finest.

5 Golf: Houses surrounding The Hills course in Arrowtown for the New Zealand Open

This course frames the best of Central Otago's craggy views with a tailored golfing landscape. It presents the sort of lush vista where even marauding pukeko appear to have signed contracts requiring them to defecate in the rough rather than on the fairways.
Locals estimate a decent set of binoculars - or possibly a Hubble telescope - might secure a gander at how players are faring on holes 7, 8, 9, 11 and 12 if you happen to have friends or family living on Cotter Ave.

6 Horse racing: Houses overlooking the Ellerslie racecourse

Some residents on the western side of Auckland's Peach Parade and Ladies' Mile can enjoy race meetings from the comfort of home without turning on the telly. Armed with the Herald racing section, a TAB account, a phone or internet connection and a pair of field glasses they can watch thoroughbreds and jockeys vie for supremacy live from their back doorsteps. Throw in a cranked-up barbecue, a chilly bin, a couple of successful trips to the cyber tote and a handful of mates and you've got a raging knees-up.