A night on the Wakatipu beat with Scoop and his loyal PA


I don’t know about you but when I get to the end of the working week, I’m partial to a cold drink. 

And so it was last Wednesday night. 

After putting another edition to bed, veteran Mountain Scene chief news hound Philip ‘Scoop’ Chandler and I headed up Queenstown Hill to a $4 million mega-home being used by the Tourism Industry Association for its TRENZ media function. 

Things were going swimmingly until Scoop, in what appeared to be a mild state of shock, quietly wandered over and informed me TIA’s PR trout had asked that we both leave. 

We weren’t intoxicated – that would come later. 

But she had a very good reason. We weren’t actually TRENZ-accredited media – that honour had gone to our colleague Celia Crosbie – and so therefore we weren’t officially invited to the knees-up. 

This was still a highly unusual situation. I mean, functions are pretty much part of our job description – we eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner and often for an after-dinner snack. 

Scoop’s mood quickly swung to bemusement – I asked him when the last time was that he got ejected from a Queenstown soiree. 

“About 26 years ago, I think,” he replied, adding: “She called me notorious.” 

I told him he was and to add it to his CV. 

All the legit media headed upstairs for some speeches – I felt like shouting: “This country has a free press, y’know … so long as you’re paying for the drinks and canapes!”, but decided to play it cool. 

We escorted ourselves out via the swanky pad’s garage where we loitered, partly because we hate being told what to do but mainly because in a $4m-plus home even the garage is not a bad place to be … particularly when there’s a largely untouched tower of cocktails in the middle of it. 

“This is actually very good,” I told Scoop. “Whilst all the media are up there talking to each other, we’ll hit the function-athon in town that is TRENZ and surely get the story jump on them somewhere.” 

We tackled some lychee martinis whilst contemplating our next move. A good night out in Queenstown is a bit like golf – a game of options. And we had plenty. 

Scoop, being the ultimate professional, had quickly regathered his wits – he had invites to a travel magazine launch at Novotel and dinner at Botswana Butchery with glamourpuss Indonesian celebrity chef and social media starlet Farah Quinn. I had an invite to a GrabOne shindig at Winnies and we were both welcome to attend the Southern Lakes TRENZ party at Prime. 

We called a cab and waved goodbye to the barman and his decimated cocktail tower. 

The cabbie, upon hearing of our ejection, laughed uproariously all the way into town. Yes, I suppose it is quite funny, I said. 

“No, not that – I just love the fact you guys turn up to things you’re not invited to,” he cackled. 

Too right – that’s the Kiwi spirit, I thought. We don’t really believe in pecking orders and invite lists and pesky things like “accreditation” – egalitarianism at its best. 

We made a brief appearance at Novotel before stopping in at Bostwana to catch up with Quinn, New Zealand’s ambassador to Indonesia David Taylor and an assortment of visiting Indonesian media. They immediately invited us to dinner. 

Scoop and I checked our busy schedules before telling them that we might just be able to fit them in.