Top 10 online hit parade packs plenty of interest

23:24, Dec 29 2013
Hutt Valley fire
The large scrub fire in Hutt Valley as night fell.
train derails
Sudden stop: Commuters are helped off the derailed train carriage.
Wellington Round the Bays
Huge turnout: Competitors in the Round the Bays run/walk head down Cable St.
Celia Wade Brown
Winning feeling: Celia Wade-Brown takes the call from Wellington City Council chief executive Kevin Lavery letting her know she has been re-elected as mayor.
BNZ quake damage
Quake's wrath: Damage to the dealing room of BNZ's Harbour Quays headquarters after the July quake.
Wellington storm - ute
Destroyed: A ute lies smashed by a falling tree in Middleton Rd, Churton Park.
Wellington Sevens
Annual party: Part of the colourful crowd at the Wellington Sevens, Westpac Stadium.
Wellington lightning
All lit up: Shane Perry took this spectacular lightning picture from Lyall Bay, Wellington, in May 2013.
Rimutakas snow
Look out!: Jason Brixton and Elena Lynch from Wairarapa play in the snow on the Rimutaka Hill Rd in May.
Toast Martinborough
Feeling it: Meredith Kettell gets into the occasion at Toast Martinborough.

Weather, earthquakes and transport woes were among the most read items on in 2013, but the big events like the Sevens, local body elections and Toast Martinborough also got plenty of attention.

1. WELLINGTON SHINES FOR THE SEVENS The huge weekend of fun, partying and sport is a big part of Wellington's culture, so it's no surprise that our coverage of the Wellington Sevens comes out as the most-viewed item online. Galleries and videos of the Westpac Stadium party were hugely popular as people wanted to check out some of the more out-there costumes. For the record England won the tournament, but we don't really need to go on about that one.

2. STORM HITS WELLINGTON LIKE A FREIGHT TRAIN We were warned it would come, and boy did it deliver. The massive storm that smashed into Wellington on the afternoon of Thursday, June 20 brought Wellington and surrounding areas to a standstill. A wind gust at Mt Kaukau was recorded at about 200kmh, while trees tumbled, rail tracks fell into the harbour, and roads were closed. At one stage 30,000 homes were without electricity. Schools were closed the next day and people were told to stay out of the CBD until the city got back on its feet. It was widely regarded as the worst storm to hit the area since the day of the Wahine disaster in April 1968.

Wellington Sevens
ANNUAL PARTY: Part of the colourful crowd at the Wellington Sevens, Westpac Stadium.

3. MAJOR QUAKES RATTLE THE CAPITAL The two major earthquakes this year were centred off the South Island, but felt strongly in Wellington. The first large quake, a 6.5 magnitude, hit on a Sunday afternoon on July 21. Many buildings were damaged and it was fortunate a lot of CBD buildings were empty at the time. On Friday, August 16, about 2.30pm a 6.6 magnitude quake was felt strongly, again causing damage. Because of the time of day, and the large number of aftershocks from the July event, buildings in the capital emptied and thousands of people jammed roads out of the city, causing transport problems.

4. THREE MORE YEARS FOR CELIA WADE-BROWN Voter turnout may be low in local body elections, but interest online was high on the big night in the capital. Could long-standing councillor John Morrison take out the Wellington mayoralty from one-term incumbent Celia Wade-Brown? The answer was a reasonably emphatic "no", with Ms Wade-Brown clinching her second term. Readers flocked to the site for our coverage of that race and all the others around the region.

5. HUTT FIRE ‘DELIBERATELY LIT' Early this month firefighters tackled a massive fire on the eastern side of Hutt Valley, which police believed was deliberately lit. The blaze was so big it was seen clearly in the evening across the harbour in suburbs as far away as Miramar. Again, readers were quick to let us know what was happening, both by sending in dramatic photos and updates via social media.


6. ROUND THE BAYS About 13,000 people took part in February's Round The Bays run/walk from Wellington Railway Station to Kilbirnie. Wellington runners Martin van Barneveld and Tina Harris were first to cross the line in the main events. But it wasn't just about the top athletes, it was also about a big sense of occasion. Readers flocked to the website for updates, picture galleries and results.

7. SNOW FORECAST FOR WELLINGTON HILLS There are few things that get people excited in the capital more than snow, or even the prospect of snow. While we didn't experience a "winter wonderland" like we did in August 2011, in May this year there was plenty of the white stuff to keep people happy. It wasn't all pleasant, though, as the rare snowfall did cause all kinds of problems on the roads and with transport in general.

8. LIVE COVERAGE OF TOAST MARTINBOROUGH It seemed that if you couldn't be there, you were reading about it online. The annual wine, food and music festival, Toast Martinborough, again drew big crowds in November. Our Wairarapa reporter Caleb Harris got in the thick of it all and live blogged from all over town. An online gallery of revellers also proved popular.

9. COMMUTER TRAIN DERAILS Of all the stories about capital commuter woes, the train derailment in May topped them all. The 7.43am train from Porirua to Wellington was carrying 315 people when a carriage came off the tracks near the ferry terminal. It caused massive headaches for KiwiRail and the commuters - not just the ones onboard, but the entire train network. An inquiry criticised KiwiRail's safety practices and found that two split pins in the brakes had been left off, causing the derailment. All 26 units were removed from service for inspection.

10. LIGHTNING STORMS HIT WELLINGTON There were some spectacular lightning storms over Wellington this year, but in May and August there were a couple of real crackers. was swamped with spectacular reader pics as forked lightning rippled across the winter night sky.

The Dominion Post