The Wellingtonista

Random stuff about Wellington since 2005

Zoom zoom Zoomy?

by Joanna on October 9, 2017 in Transport

We wrote about Uber when they first came to Wellington so I’m not here to regurgitate the many cons (though this ‘game’ about the life of an Uber driver is worth a play, similar to Action Station’s Pick A Path). The obvious truth is that for passengers, Uber is super convenient. Now there’s New Zealand-based competition in the form of Zoomy that offers the same convenience without the associated extremely problematic Uber name.

“Locally owned. Lower rates. Better service.

Zoomy is currently available in Auckland & Wellington. We built Zoomy on the belief that when drivers are treated better, they provide a better service.”

But how do they stack up?

I’ve been taking Zoomy regularly for a couple of months now, and my verdict is: it stacks up pretty well. Here’s some loose thoughts as a review.

  • Zoomy used to say that their point of difference for passengers was that they don’t go into surge. This is no longer true – when I went to get a ride to the opera from home, the Zoomy app told me I was looking at $14-$17. Meanwhile there was no surge on Uber, and the ride cost me $9.
  • Conversely, since Zoomy has shown up, Uber seems to be more likely to go into surge mode. Drivers can drive for both companies, so it seems Uber is trying to defend its turf by charging  2.3 or even 3x.
  • Drivers for Zoomy need to have a passenger license. In order to make the most money though (according to an Uber driver who was approached by Zoomy but declined), they also need to be registered for GST, which you might not be if you were just after some extra income.
  • Uber’s network has had a couple of years to learn about best pickup points, so I’ve struggled with a couple of Zoomy pickups at the supermarket – no I can’t just come out of the carpark and cross the street with a shopping cart full of bottles and catfood. More users will mean Zoomy learns better, because Uber wasn’t great at this at the start. But for now I have had some drivers cancel on me after I’ve waited ages because they took the wrong turn.
  • According to one of my Zoomy drivers, they’re topped up to $10 for all minimum fares (which are $5.95, same as Uber’s except Uber also charges a 55 cent booking fee). I don’t understand how that can possibly be a sustainable business model. According to this 2015 article half of Zoomy is owned by the richlister Spencer Family. I’m no business journalist so I have no idea where the money is coming from, or going to. When I ask drivers, they say they like that the money is going to an NZ company. They don’t say that they’re making more than with Uber.
  • Many of your favourite Uber drivers are probably driving for Zoomy now as well – unfortunately your least favourites may be too, like the dude who’s like a vaping fedora come to life who manages to reek of cigarette smoke too. Cars are generally the same as on Uber – mostly Prisues and those Honda hybrids with really low back seat roofs that ruin your hair. I don’t think the disco Uber is on Zoomy which is a bit sad.
  • Zoomy starts charging you when your car gets near you, so beware if your driver passes you by and goes around the block and then picks you up, because it will bring an extra charge. If you contact the team, you’ll get this returned to you.
  • Speaking of the support team, they’ve upped their game in the past month or so. I had a boundaries issue with one of the drivers and they were nice about it and put in an exclusion so I won’t get that driver again. Don’t bother trying to contact them on Twitter though because they haven’t updated since 2015.
  • I didn’t write this review in order to get free stuff, BUT here’s my promo code if you want to start using Zoomy – I think you get $10 free and so do I –  X3R7UUD. You might also get a free code when you download the app, and keep an eye out for a 50% discount rate often advertised on Facebook.


Review: Kátya Kabanová

by Joanna on October 7, 2017 in Theatre

Kátya Kabanová was the first opera I ever saw, back in 1996 when it was here for the International Festival. I was 16, and we got $5 tickets to the dress rehersal through drama class. I was overwhelmed by the music and the draaaaama and the rain on stage and the cliff that rose up on hydraulics and cried my eyes out. Needless to say, when we were offered tickets to NZ Opera’s mounting of Kátya , I jumped at the chance.

Katya at home (image David Rowland)

Katya is a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage who dreams of flying away like a bird. My companion thought it was a little on the nose to set it in a Norman Rockwell painting, but I thought the suffocating Laura Ashley florals of 1950s suburbia was fitting. It helped bridge the gap between the mostly secular world of New Zealand in 2017 where feminism has brought a lot more freedom to (some) women and social ruin might just be people blocking you on Twitter, and Czechoslovakia in 1921. One thing remains the same throughout the ages though – Kátya’s lover Boris is definitely a no good fuckboi.

Sets were gorgeously designed, mostly sparse but with great use of projected video backgrounds. Dina Kuznetsova as Kátya was absolutely stunning, a beautiful voice and conveyed so much with her face. Her nasty mother in law (Margaret Medlyn as Kabanicha) was particularly icy and I loved the swagger of the badass sister in law. This particular opera has a lot of talking through song, which isn’t my favourite thing, and because it’s in Czech, it sounded particularly spikey against the music to my English ears. The singing and the music often seemed to be going in different directions, which is probably the way it is written but made me feel a little panicky at times. 

Katya and the stars (Photo by David Rowland)

If you’re an opera fan or love good stage craft, give it a whirl. The performance was great, even though I hate the story because ugh doomed love and ugh fuckbois and ugh disempowered women (and yes, I know that’s basically all opera). I would suggest it’s perhaps not the best opera for a first timer, but if it is your first, here’s a tip no one gave me back in 1996: For the whole first act, I thought I was either missing really obvious jokes or was seated in an audience who all spoke Czech. Then I spotted the surtitles.  


What’s on this week?

by librarykris on September 18, 2017 in Theatre

Here’s a round up of what shows are on this week.

At Circa Theatre…

Anahera, on at Circa Theatre to 7 October 2017

A contemporary domestic thriller (in the style of Broadchurch) about a struggling kiwi family. Liz and Peter Hunter have it all. A great marriage, successful careers, a beautiful house and two wonderful children. Until their son Harry goes missing. Distraught, they wait for news from the police, supported by social worker Anahera. But as the hours pass and everyone is pushed beyond their limits, Anahera must make a stand. But is it already too late? Can Anahera save anyone?

A Doris Day special on at Circa Theatre to 14 October 2017

Ali Harper returns with her highly-acclaimed show A Doris Day Special. Doris Day, with her bubbly personality, lilting voice and blonde beauty, was America’s singing sweetheart of the silver screen during the 1950s and 1960s. With her hit songs Sentimental JourneySecret Love and Que Sera Sera, Day was for many years ranked as the #1 female box office star in the world. Directed by Stephanie McKellar-Smith with the Big Band Musical Direction by Rodger Fox, it’s 1971 and Doris is filming her Television Special. You are invited to be a part of A Doris Day Special television studio audience and celebrate the life and songs of that quintessential girl next door.


At BATS Theatre…

Me and My Sister Tell Each Other Everything on at BATS Theatre to 23 September 2017

A family-unfriendly play about sibling relationships set to song and hubris. Siblings relationships are a bond you share with those humans no one else can understand – you know EVERYTHING about each other, the good, the bad and the ugly (and the naked, drunk, stupid, sad and glorious).Please note:  Me and My Sister Tell Each Other Everything contains detailed discussion and graphic portrayal of suicide including blood. It also contains coarse language.

I, Will Jones, on at BATS Theatre, 19-23 September 2017

I, Will Jones is the third show from comedian and writer Eamonn Marra. It investigates the hypercompetitive, hypermasculine culture of New Zealand’s all-boys high schools. Directed by New Zealand Fringe Award-winning director Adam Goodall (Stand Up Love, Proficiency Test), I, Will Jones is a provocative and hilarious story from one of New Zealand’s most highly-regarded up-and-coming comedians about the people we are and the people we’d rather be.

“If you could be anyone in the world, who would you be? To Eamonn Marra, twelve years old, the answer is obvious: Will Jones, the coolest kid in intermediate. When Eamonn and Will end up at the same high school, both at the bottom of the heap, Eamonn gets a chance to live his dream – he strikes a deal with Will to switch lives, a couple of hours at a time, like the Animorphs in those books. Finally, Eamonn can be the person he wants to be, if only for a little bit… but what happens when that’s no longer enough?”

Playshop live at BATS Theatre, on Fridays

Fast, spontaneous comedy from nothing! They’re back and bigger than ever; with more thrills and spills in late-night comedy that’s uniquely PlayShop.  Be led by our charming actors through a night of fun, frivolity and feel-good vibes.

Brackets at BATS Theatre, monthly on Saturdays

A monthly smorgasbord of queer entertainment – everything from plays to podcasts to poetry slams.

All that’s best in queer performance, for and by the queer community. Brackets is our history told through performance – everything from plays to podcasts to poetry slams. We’re popping the lid on the dress-up box, dusting off our copies of Dykes to Watch Out For, and sitting at the feet of our favourite auntie to hear the stories she couldn’t tell us when we were younger.


On at the Hannah Playhouse…

The Wholehearted at the Hannah Playhouse 20-23 September 2017

An honest portrayal of the extreme power of love, The Wholehearted is a heart-warming devised theatre work that spans generations, genders and cultures. A mix of characters tenderly and humorously share with us their search for a wholehearted way of life, exploring what people do in the pursuit of love and how love changes us. Journeys of heartbreak, grief and loss are charmingly and vigorously transformed by the ensemble to the courage, compassion and joy that exists within each of us.



World of Wearableart Awards Show on at 21 September -8 October 2017

The World of WearableArt®, known as WOW®, is a renowned international design competition that attracts hundreds of entries from all over the world.

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Review: That Bloody Woman

by librarykris on September 14, 2017 in Music, Theatre

Esther Stephens as Kate SheppardKate Sheppard, “the leading light of the New Zealand women’s suffrage movement” tells her story in this rock musical by Luke Di Somma and Gregory Cooper. Directed by Kip Chapman, (with Jennifer Ward-Lealand this season’s Rehearsal Director) the show is terrific.  All the elements of the best musicals are here – a well constructed dramatic arc, catchy and affecting songs, brilliant performers, backed up by strong design choices. One song I’m angry, the next I’m trying not to ugly cry, then I’m in tears from laughing.

The Gang Ensemble – Amy Straker, Phoebe Hurst, Cameron Douglas, Kyle Chuen – are energetic, fun, and use their voices well in the different songs styles. (It seems redundant to say they can sing, but WOW, they can sing. I appreciate that they get to be showcased individually as well as show off their terrific harmonies.) They’re on stage first as they set up for Kate Sheppard. There’s a lot of responsibility riding on performer Esther Stephens’ ability to connect with the audience. No worries though because she’s fantastic.  Her voice is clear and sparkling and she effectively shows us the emotional journey of her character. Geoffrey Dolan plays Richard Seddon, the visible villain in this piece. Blustery and pompous- he’s perfect. All of the singing cast are committed to the emotion of the show even when they’re dancing (wonderful musical choreography by Olivia Tennet.) They’re backed by a skilled band. Musical director Andy Manning is a bit hidden behind his keyboard while Tim Heeringa (guitar), Emma Hattaway (bass guitar) and Cameron Burnett are visible but not intrusive.

Costume designer Lisa Holmes dresses Stephens in pale clothes and elegant hair. Her costumes are often wonderfully textured and are linked to the style of the time. For the ensemble, their inspiration is punk styles – layers of denim with rips, and mesh, studs and straps. Richard Seddon is appropriately booted and suited…I’m not going to spoil what he wears for his first appearance. Original lighting designer Brendan Albrey set the foundation which Abby Clearwater has adapted  for the Opera House space. It keeps the focus where it’s needed while highlighting the excitement and drama of the show.

Kate Sheppard had radical ideas for her time that still resonate today. “All that separates, whether of race, class, creed, or sex, is inhuman, and must be overcome.” After the show I heard people talking about the petition and the election and the events of the show as real and immediate concerns. This is a testament to the cleverness and affect of the production.

I laughed, I cried, I cackled, I shouted. Marvelous.

You can get a discount by using the promo code: rockthevote (The discount is available to anyone and everyone who believes in equality – get in!)

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More posts…

Preview: Anahera

by librarykris September 7, 2017

Anahera is the new play from Emma Kinane. Described as an “enthralling mix of an intense missing child drama and a behind-closed-doors look at New Zealand’s social services” it’s a contemporary domestic thriller about a struggling Kiwi family and how one woman making a stand could make all the difference. A finalist in last year’s Adam […]

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Review: The Pickle King

by Steph September 4, 2017

The Pickle King is on now at the Hannah Playhouse and is a colourful, quirky and unique tale of love, death and what is worth preserving. Once the finest hotel in town, the Empire is now as faded as the dreams of the piano player who haunts the lobby. Ammachy runs the Empire with an […]

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Preview: The Wholehearted

by librarykris August 31, 2017

Massive Company is bringing The Wholehearted to Wellington in September. An honest portrayal of the extreme power of love, it was developed through conversations with their local community, asking them to share their personal stories of affection and dedication. The result is a heart-warming devised theatre work that spans generations, genders and cultures. Massive Company’s […]

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In which we solve all traffic problems forever

by Joanna August 21, 2017

In purely coincidental timing just before an election, the National Party is handing out new roads in an Oprah-like fashion. You get a road, and you get a road and YOU get a road. How we’re going to get a couple of billion dollars of new roads out of a budget full of holes for […]

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Project Glow on the Runway

by Alan August 17, 2017

A few weeks ago we previewed the garments and accessories created for Project Glow, a fashion competition for reflective gear. Last Saturday evening we attended the Wellington show (the Auckland show is on Saturday 26th, tickets here). Right now it’s hard to compete with all those luscious burger photos here on The Wellingtonista, so we think we […]

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WOAP 17: Concrete, Glasshouse, Hillside

by Joanna August 16, 2017

How are we all going with Wellington on a Plate then? As we tweeted today, there’s no less than three alternatives to the official site in order to help you navigate your way to a burger (One, two, three). Maybe they’ll be incorporated next year? In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been eating Lock Stock […]

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