The new Lonely Planet guide to New Zealand says Kiwis are "fairly relaxed and accepting about homosexuality," but notes that homophobia does still exist.
The 14th edition of the top-selling guide to travelling in Aotearoa is freshly out in bookshops around the world this week, and again features useful information for LGBT tourists to our shores.
The gay and lesbian tourism industry in New Zealand isn't as high-profile as in neighbouring Australia, the guide notes, but gay communities "are prominent in the main cities of Auckland and Wellington, with myriad support organizations across both islands."
LGBT nightlife venues "change with alarming regularity," says the book, but lists several it identifies as "stayers".
Auckland's Family bar is "trashy, brash and young, but can be a lot of fun," while Urge is "older and hairier, with raunchy parties and lots of cruising," it notes.
Ponsonby Road's Dorothy's Sister is "camp and cosy with a cute garden and a fabulous owner," while Sohomo "is only held fortnightly but this indie queer night is the scene's coolest party."
The guide doesn't mention Cuba Street's gay S&M bar, but says Wellington's G&L scene is "tiny, but friendly and inclusive. G&L party people fit in almost everywhere. Most of the cafes and bars around Courtney Place, Lambton Quay and Cuba Street are very gay-friendly."
Hamilton's gay bar Shine gets a favourable review. "Until recently Hamilton's gay venues [the Next Door Bar and 10High] were closeted away near the railway track in a grim corner of Frankton. It's a measure of Hamilton's increasing sophistication that its main gay bar is now visible to Victoria Street's passing parade." The guide describes Shine as a better-looking venue than its Auckland sisters, however "given the track record of attractive gay bars in this part of the world, we hope it is still open when this book is published."
The authoring team for the Lonely Planet New Zealand edition comprises 80% Kiwis, including Peter Dragicevich, an ex-General Manger of gay newspapers Express and Sydney Star Observer. His tip: "Travelling with friends can be great fun, but don't be afraid to go it alone."