Okay. Iíll admit it. New Zealand was never at the top
of my places to see list, writes OutUK correspondent Ed Walsh. A good friend went
recently and couldnít stop talking about it. So I
looked into visiting and finally arrived recently for
a ten-day whirlwind tour.
New Zealand may never achieve the party-central status
of its massive neighbour, Australia, but what it lacks
in gay venues it more than makes up in spectacular
scenery, climate and a distinctively different
gay/lesbian scene. Whatís unique about the gay/lesbian community in New
I first put that question to Peter Graczer,
who writes for Express, New
Zealandís gay newspaper. As he explained in his
opinion piece, some gay and lesbian tourists to
Auckland, New Zealandís largest city, are quick to
point out the lack of the numerous gay venues found in
other cities such as London, Sydney and San Francisco.
Downtown Auckland at night.
ďFor all the lack of thrills, we instead enjoy an
enviable position as citizens,Ē Graczer wrote. ďYes,
Iíll admit it doesnít have the same sell as cheap sex
and drugs, but why arenít we a little prouder about
this? In Australia, a Holy Grail of hedonism to many
gay New Zealanders, the state has actively moved to
curtail or preclude adoption and marriage for same sex
couples. In the USA, the situation has improved in terms of same-sex marriage, but there are
still many policitians who seek reform that will permanently entrench a lower
civil status for gay men and lesbians.Ē
Graczerís opinion was echoed by dozens of gay men and
lesbians, including the two openly gay members of
Parliament, with whom I spoke during my tour.
The gay and lesbian communities are integrated into the fabric of the
countryís population of nearly 3.5 million. Itís not
uncommon to see groups of gays and lesbians gathering
at predominately ďstraightĒ clubs.
Out gay MP Tim Barnett (right) with his partner Ramon Maniapoto.
Auckland is the stopping off point for most people who
visit New Zealand. The Auckland area is home to 1.1
million people, about a third of the population of New
Zealand. It also boasts that it has the largest
Polynesian population of any city in the world.
Auckland is very walkable and is best explored on
The cityís crown jewel is its Sky Tower, the tallest
structure in the Southern Hemisphere. Itís a great
landmark that will help you get your bearings if you
get lost. The Link bus is a great way to get around to
see all the wonderful sites in Auckland. The city fare is
only $1 NZ, which is about 55 pence. You can take it
to Aucklandís wharf to take a number of harbour
I took the bus to the Pride of Auckland
cruise on my first day for a spectacular view of the
land and sea.
The bus will also take you to the Auckland War
Memorial Museum for some great exhibitions on New
Zealand history, including the rich history of its
native inhabitants, the Maori Indians.
The Sky Tower.
There are a number of wineries in the Auckland area
and throughout New Zealand. I took a Fine Wine Tour
and that took in three wineries, lunch, and some
spectacular scenery along the way.|
BARS & CLUBBING
As I've said, the gay scene in New Zealand is
integrated in the mainstream throughout the city. That
said, there are a number of gay/lesbian venues.
The Eagle bar is a popular gay bar with a mixed clientele of all ages.
Family is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and has Karaoke and drag shows. It's one of the biggest and most popular locations on K-Road.
Late Shift Men's Cruise Club in Dundonald Street, Newton has fetish playrooms, extensive maze and cubicals, pool table, pinball and cable TV. There's
free breakfast at the weekend, a full bar with full range of alcoholic beverages and some snacks.
And if you need to do some shopping, The Grinder has Gay magazines, videos, leather, adult toys and more. There's a cruising lounge, video rooms and some play areas.
Aucklandís most popular gay/lesbian friendly
restaurant is SPQR. Itís on 150 Ponsonby Road, in the Ponsonby neighborhood. The
Ponsonby Road is probably Aucklandís gayest
section, although there is no definable gay
Auckland is also home to a popular sauna, the
Centurion Sauna For Men on Beresford Square, and some cruise clubs, their
term for sex clubs, nearby.
The San Francisco Cafe on gay-friendly Ponsonby Road.
Some of the more popular gay-welcoming accommodations
include Moana Vista Bed & Breakfast in the upscale
Herne Bay neighbourhood, a short walk to Ponsonby Road.
Itís owned by a young gay couple. For
those on a budget, Brown Kiwi Travelers Hostel, in the
Ponsonby neighborhood, is a good choice. A private
room there will run you under 30 pounds.
MONEY & TRAVEL
You will get about 1.8 New Zealand dollars for a
Pound. Auckland is overall New Zealand's most
expensive area. New Zealand is proudly a non-tipping country. If
you are given exceptional service in a restaurant, you
can tip 5% or 10% but it's not expected.
You can find a big selection of hotels throughout New Zealand at special online prices
from our partners
Overall, the weather in New Zealand is very mild. The
temperature rarely dips below freezing in Auckland and
the rest of the North Island. The weather in the South Island is more seasonal. For
example, it often gets below freezing in Queenstown
during their winter, our summer, although it seldom
snows at ground level. The average winter day is crisp
Christmas time through February are the warmest
months, with daytime temperatures in the 80s but it's
also the busiest tourist season, so if you go then,
you will have plenty of company. To give you an even
greater incentive to visit in the quieter winter
months, many hotels discount their rates and you can
usually get better flight deals.
Part 2: Wellington Queenstown & Nelson