Our top picks for your next weekend getaway.

Singer-songwriter Julia Deans is celebrating the release of her new album We Light Fire with a tour around New Zealand, which reaches Gisborne's Dome Cinema and Wellington's San Fran this weekend. It's the first headline tour that Deans has performed with a full band in more than seven years and the talented singer has chosen to shine a light on gender disparity and select local support acts accordingly — female, female identifying gender non-binary fronted bands or solo artists — while her tour team is also predominantly female. Dome Cinema, cnr Childers Rd and Customhouse St, Gisborne, Friday, August 10, 7.30pm; San Fran, 171 Cuba St, Wellington, Saturday, August 10, 7.30pm. Tickets $40 at undertheradar.co.nz

Step by Step. Oh baby!

The annual Step Up Sky Tower Stair Challenge takes place this Friday, which sees business and community teams — including members of the fire service in all of their heavy gear — from all over New Zealand race up the 1103 steps of Auckland's famous tower to raise money for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand. The goal for individuals is to raise $1000 via sponsorship for the cause while teams of five are aiming for $5000. If the thought of all those stairs is just too much you could lend your support with a much-appreciated donation. SkyCity Auckland, cnr Victoria and Federal streets, Auckland, Friday, August 10, 1-6.30pm. Visit stepupclimb.org.nz

Quirky cuisine and a circus

The American Express Restaurant Month is under way for the month of August, which sees more than 100 of Auckland's eateries hosting events and offering special deals. New this year is The Curious Food Festival, which takes over Auckland's Shed 10 next weekend. The festival sees 12 city-centre eateries, including Scratch Bakers, The Seafood Kitchen and Daikoku, serving up imaginative dishes while The Big Little Circus and DJ Arii Jade provide the entertainment. On site will also be seven craft breweries, two wineries and S.Pellegrino. The first 2000 people get in for free, after that entry is $5 at the gate (with children under 12 free with a paying adult). Queens Wharf, Auckland, Saturday, August 18, 12-8pm. Visit heartofthecity.co.nz


Lets get messy

Get some extra washing powder if you're planning to tackle next weekend's Tough Guy and Gal Challenge at Rotorua's Lakes Ranch. The off-road running event, which is open to anyone aged 13-plus, takes in a whole lot of muddy activities including swamp crossings, crawling under barbed wire, tunnels and native bush trails as well as climbing nets and frames and hurdles. Not for the fainthearted, or the OCD among you. Numbers are limited to 2000 and there will be goodie bags, spot prizes, merit awards and most importantly, hot showers. 79 Lake Rotokawau Rd, Tikitere, Rotorua, Saturday, August 18, 11am-2pm. Visit eventpromotions.co.nz for ticket information.