Saturday, 16 May 2009

Highlights of New Zealand

New Zealand was again wonderful.
In September last year, we travelled by campervan from Christchurch to Auckland, this time we stayed in Auckland due to Brandt's filming commitments for Stars in their eyes.
I took the kids of short day trips and we found some new sites and re visited some favourites from 7 months ago.

As it was the week before Easter, we were lucky to be able to go to the Royal Easter show, it was completely different from the one I am used to in Sydney, but a much better smaller scale for 2 little children.
Brandt took the kids on the worlds shortest ghost train and Ted on the bumper cars in sideshow alley and I took Ted into a very narrow and dark haunted house.

We loved the wild west show and Sienna was on the search all day for the Easter Bunny and was very pleased to have found him, finally.

We met up with Charles, Kim and Liam and Kim's family there also which was fun.

Our big highlight apart from watching Daddy perform in a TV studio was for our budding volcanologist to discover a HUGE volcano display at the Auckland Museum.


We also loved our bus trips to Mission bay and St.Heliers bay to play on the beach, ferry trip to Devonport, Kelly Tarlton's underwater world and a day at the Auckland zoo was definitely a highlight.

We felt like we were the only people there wandering through amazing natural animal habitats.
Liam didn't like the Hippopotamus's, they scared him, we all loved the monkeys, playgrounds, flamingoes and Lions. I loved the cheeky meerkats.


We stayed at the Chifley apartments and although a big noisy for us country folk, the kids loved the city coming to life each day.

We often visited the Sky city breakfast buffet and definitely got our money's worth just for Teddy's fruit fix alone, he would often raise eyebrows from other diners with the amount of oranges a small boy can eat.

I think that we have had our city fix for a while now and are looking forward to returning 'home' to our quiet and peaceful little Norfolk Island.

Friday, 15 May 2009


In Mid 2008 prompted by my cousins in-laws in NZ who had heard Brandt sing at my cousins wedding, Brandt sent a DVD off to the Stars in their eyes TV show and after almost 6 months of being short listed, we finally got the news that he had been accepted onto the show.

Stars in their eyes is a reality TV show and I think is the second highest rating show in NZ, this is it's second season.
It is a singing show where each performer walks on as themselves for a short interview after the 2 minute 'at home' promo is shown, then they enter a tunnel and as you can only do on TV, walk out a moment later fully made up as the artist that you are impersonating.
Brandt McRitchie is Tom Jones.

First we had a visit from segment producer, Pietra and the camera man Tony who flew over from NZ and stayed at the apartments, we had a great time with them and they filmed some awesome footage of Norfolk Island to use in the Promo.
Then Brandt had a couple more trips over to Auckland to work with voice coaches and costumers to get his look right.

We finally had the dates and the draw, Brandt was to be in show 3 along side four other very talented kiwis, although Brandt wasn't a kiwi, he was adopted for the time as being from the West Island.

The other performers were imitating Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20, Bic Runga, Gwen Stefani and Billy Idol.

Back stage was lots of fun, while Teddy, Sienna, my cousin's Charles&Kim as well as Kim's parents John and Karen who sent his DVD in and myself got to be in the audience. Of course we were in the non voting section.
The Production crew at Imagination TV were amazing as were Brandt's voice coach, the band, back up singers and dancing girls as well as the costumers and make up people.

Brandt sang Tom Jones fantastic upbeat song
"If I only Knew" from Tom's Sex Bomb album. This was chosen because Brandt's DVD that was sent in was of him singing this song when he won the "Cooroy Idol" Karaoke competition.
Little did we know until afterwards that the title was so appropriate, even though it was a big hit in Australia, the song is unknown in NZ. It wasn't until the dress rehearsal when the awesome brass section of the band commented to Brandt what a great song it was and they were glad they had learned it because they hadn't heard it before, then he knew that he was in trouble with the local voting audience.
'If we only knew' in hindsight, sex bomb would have been a better choice.

After all 5 songs were sung for the Audience, It could have gone any way, but the Audience voted the very talented and very nice guy, Nigel McCutcheon as Billy Idol to go through to the Grand final.

The whole thing was an awesome experience.

Brandt has been picked up by the NZ agent, Mr Austin Powers impersonator himself, Gary Brown of Tornado Entertainment Ltd.
He has performed several Tom Jones cabaret type shows since and has another one coming up in January 2010.
See Gary's website.

Because we couldn't view the TV show and because all the locals were asking to see it, Brandt showed his DVD copy at the local Theatre and gave the proceeds to the hospital auxillary fundraiser.

We all had a good giggle when a friend, Kath threw an enourmous pair of Knickers at the screen during his song.