This year has seen dizzying highs, devastating lows, mother
nature at her most furious, a court case that mesmerised the
nation - and panic as Marmite produced ceased. Rebecca
Quilliam of APNZ reminisces.
The year could not have got off to a worse start with a hot
air balloon crash in the small Wairarapa town of Carterton.
Eleven people died when their balloon became caught in
powerlines and caught fire on January 7.
The town and the country wept for the loss of lives, from a
crash the cause of which has yet to be fully explained by
At a memorial service, Prime Minister John Key said something
had gone terribly wrong on that fine, crisp Saturday morning.
"There is no fairness in what happened - a morning which
started so happily and peacefully ended in terrible sadness."
A further blow to the country hit in March with the death of
eight people when the boat they were on, the Easy Rider, sank
in the Foveaux Strait, off the coast of Stewart Island.
Tragedy rounded off the year when a deadly tornado hit West
Auckland this month, killing three men.
The twister struck suddenly and wrecked havoc in suburban
Hobsonville, leaving millions of dollars of damage in its
Mother nature again reminded us of her awesome force as Mt
Tongariro erupted in August and November. It was the first
time the mountain had seen action in more than a century.
Nobody was hurt, but in November, trampers were sent fleeing
from the mountain as black smoke, gas and ash spewed 4km in
This year also finally saw the findings of an inquiry into
another great disaster.
The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the deaths of 29 West
Coast miners at the Pike River mine was released last month
(November) nearly two years after a series of explosions tore
through the underground tunnels.
After enduring weeks of intense hearings, the bereaved
families were finally told the deaths of their husbands,
fathers, sons, brothers and uncles were entirely preventable.
Another hearing that gripped the nation was the Ewan McDonald
The month-long event dominated the media and watercooler
conversations as the not guilty verdict was absorbed.
Few other murder trials have received such saturation
coverage and public scrutiny.
Tragically, the trial's superstar, defence lawyer Greg King
died suddenly last month. His performance representing
McDonald was lauded by experts as a "masterclass".
The country's mood improved with a visit from the heir to the
throne, Prince Charles, and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of
The royal pair visited Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington,
Christchurch - and Feilding.
They gained almost rockstar status, and were mobbed by
thousands as they travelled down the country.
And in a happy finale to the end of the Queen's jubilee year,
her grandson Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton
announced a new royal heir is on the way, who will one day
head the Commonwealth.
Wellington undertook a fantastical transformation in
November, changing its name to the Middle of Middle-earth and
being home to Hobbits, wizards, trolls and all manner of
About 100,000 people jammed into downtown for the world
premiere of Sir Peter Jackson's latest piece of movie magic,
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
A 500m red carpet was rolled along Courtenay Place, where the
movie's stars paraded for two hours to squealing fans of the
JRR Tolkien inspired films.
And the end of the year brought good news for those who have
suffered for months without the popular yeast spread,
Manufacturer Sanitarium's Christchurch factory got the
all-clear from quake damage and the company said production
should resume soon.
So for Christmas, a toast to toast - and Marmite.