Friday, January 29, 2010

Lots happening this weekend in Queenstown ... mainly golf

I woke up before 7am this morning to attend a webinar from the States on the Science of Social Media. It was a nasty reminder of working for that major tech company in America when I first got to New Zealand. But then I got distracted by the almost mystical view of super low clouds over Lake Wakatipu just a metre away from my laptop. I think it's just the start of another gorgeous weekend in Queenstown. At least that's my hope since there is so much happening in town this weekend.

Today there is a free event in town, Rock 4 Haiti. It's an 8 hour concert delivered by local musicians to raise money for Haiti and her victims. Hooray for the local radio station, The Rock, and to Glen Balfour (of The Flaming Drivers), John Stapleton (of Revolver), and other volunteers for their efforts in organizing this event!

The NZ Open kicked off this week at The Hills in Arrowtown. This is a major event for NZ, bringing heaps of international coverage and much visibility to this region. Not to mention that this event provides the public the opportunity to see the golf course and facilities, which are not normally open to the public. And let me tell you, this is a GORGEOUS place! I'd never been to a golf tournament until I attended last year while working as the Marketing Manager for one of the local helicopter companies in Queenstown who were part of the closing ceremonies.

The buzz is that this year's event will be even better. A friend told me that during a Chamber of Commerce meeting in town yesterday, a major representative from the golf world said that for many golfers around the world, coming to Queenstown for the NZ Open is one of their favorite things to do. According to American golfer, DJ Brigman, in a news article posted online this morning ... "I think Queenstown is the prettiest place I've ever seen. I've seen nothing to compare to it in the USA," he told a press conference after shooting a six-under 66 yesterday. "I've posted all my photographs on my Facebook page already and everyone is going: `Man, what a beautiful place'," he said.

On Sunday, New Zealand's Prime Minister, John Key will be in town to open the new Coronet Nine at Millbrook in Arrowtown. I'm sure he'll be headed to The Hills afterwards to see the closing of the NZ Open. Everyone likes to attend the closing.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Summer in January

When you've spent most of your life in the Northern Hemisphere, January means Winter. Even if it is a 50-70 degree Farenheit Winter in Southern California, where they say it never rains. (Don't let them fool you. It rains and can rain quite hard. It used to be, afterall, a desert.) One of the things that seems to always remain odd for someone from the Northern Hemisphere, is that seasons are opposite when you live in New Zealand. Even the lovely couple from Switzerland that I shared a dinner table with last night commented about it.

In Queenstown, everyone is always anxiously awaiting Summer. It's gorgeous here in Summer. Besides the extremes that can occur - stinking hot days or pouring rain - and the fact that Summer appears to be hay fever season (and it has been horrible this year by many accounts, including my own as I'm now on my last antibiotic from the sinus infection that my hay fever turned into) - Summer brings so much joy. The sun is up by 7am-ish, and it doesn't get dark till after 10pm-ish. Long days for plenty of outdoor play.

And Summer is never long enough in Queenstown. It is supposed to start in December and start turning to Autumn around mid-to-late March. This Summer, some people are saying that it has just arrived.

I've always had this strange knack for being able to smell Summer's departure and Autumn's arrival. I mean literally smell it. It occurs when I wake up early in the morning. I sense a feeling, look outside, and can smell the coming change in the fresh air. So you can imagine how disturbing it was for me to smell this familiar smell this morning when I rolled out of bed.

I mean, come on! I'm just now finally starting to come right after that big weekend (and a friend's milestone birthday party) in early January. Summer can't be over yet! I haven't even gone out to play yet! I guess I'd better get out there. Break out the tramping shoes, the running shoes, the mountain bike, the kayaks ... and hope that my nose is just thrown off from the change in hemispheres or the sinus issues.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mr. Wimpy and the BMX Kid

Tourism New Zealand has announced the 5 finalists in their "Your Big Break" competition. This is an amazingly clever idea to market New Zealand, for both tourism and film making, worldwide. Here is the detail from the contest web site ...

Your Big Break in a Nutshell

  1. The first thing you need to do is write a three-minute screenplay on how you would ‘Capture the spirit of 100% Pure New Zealand - the youngest country on earth’.
  2. You submit your screenplay. It is highly recommended you also supply supporting material in a 60 second video pitch to camera to bring your idea to life. It could include rough storyboards, stock footage edits, narratives etc.
  3. These will be assessed by a panel of experts including Academy Award®-winning producers, editors and filmmakers.
  4. The entries will be reduced to a shortlist of 5, which includes one people’s choice entry that is based on the number of votes it receives from the general public. It is to your advantage to encourage your friends and family to get involved and vote for you.
  5. Those five successful applicants will be flown to New Zealand early in 2010. They will have three weeks to pre-produce, shoot and post-produce their idea to the budget of NZ$100,000, with the help of a small crew and Peter Jackson’s post-production facilities in Wellington.
  6. Your return airfare, accommodation, production facilities, crew and core casting are covered as part of your prize.
  7. The five completed three-minute films will then be viewed and judged by Peter Jackson.
  8. You will return home.
  9. The winning film will run on US television in 2010 crediting you.
  10. You will be famous.
I was viewing the 5 finalists' pitches this morning. The range of ideas is inspiring, but this one so stood out to me. Have a look ...