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Former New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming said that the nail-biting one-wicket triumph over co-hosts Australia at Auckland showed why Brendon McCullum men can be considered as favourites to win the World Cup.
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The Kiwis’ love of sports and the great outdoors has translated into two inaugural marathons taking place in the South Island this year.

The events are a boost to the country’s tourism, which will feature trails that take participants through some of the most scenic spots in New Zealand.

In April, the glacial wonderland of Aoraki Mt Cook National Park will play host to the Aoraki Mt Cook Marathon. The event is attracting runners from all over the world, challenging them to test their endurance in the marathon, half marathon, 10km and 5km runs. Located in the South Island, Aoraki Mt Cook is New Zealand’s highest mountain. The terrain itself is diverse, and the trail will pass through the alpine tussock shoreline of Lake Pukaki, Glentanner Station - a high-country working sheep farm, before ending at Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Village.

The race will serve as a precursor to another scenic running event, the Queenstown International Marathon in November, 2014. The event features a full marathon (42km), half marathon (21km), a 10km event and a 3km fun run for families and children.

Set against a stunning backdrop comprised of the world renowned Crown and Remarkable mountain ranges, the track will take runners through the Queenstown Lakes region; historic gold mining area of Arrowtown and the Arrow River track; Lake Hayes – famed for the Australasian crested grebe (kāmana), a species of diving birds; past Shotover and Wakatipu Rivers; the Queenstown Gardens; before ending at the heart of the city.

“We are excited to welcome runners from all over the world to these two events,” said Mischa Mannix-Opie, Regional Manager South & South East Asia, Tourism New Zealand. “The marathons will challenge participants as the terrain offers a mix of hard packed trails and roads, amidst a dramatically unfolding landscape.”

The two marathons are just the latest in a list of events happening in New Zealand in the next couple of years.

From 27 February to 2 March, the country will once again play host to the PGA Open. The annual tournament will be held at two world-renowned golf courses in Queenstown – The Hills and Millbrook, and features a unique Pro-Am format that attracts a blend of professional and amateur golfers.

These events add to the country’s international sporting events roster, as New Zealand gears up for the Cricket World Cup and FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2015.

The ICC Cricket World Cup will run from 14 February to 29 March, with 49 matches to be split evenly between co-hosts New Zealand and Australia. The event is the world’s fourth largest sports event, with an audience of about two billion.

Every competing nation will get a chance to play in New Zealand, as the country will host important matches such as the competition opener, a quarter and a semi-final.

Twenty-seven of the matches will be in New Zealand, shared amongst seven cities – Auckland, Hamilton, Napier and Wellington in the North Island; Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin in the South Island.

Christchurch will be the venue for the opening match, giving the New Zealand team the home advantage over Sri Lanka. One quarter-final match will be in Wellington Regional Stadium, while Auckland’s Eden Park will host a semi-final game.

In May, New Zealand will host another sporting event, the FIFA U-20 World Cup, which is the second most important FIFA tournament after the FIFA Men’s World Cup.

The high profile football tournament will be held from 30 May to 21 June  and feature 24 national teams playing a total of 52 matches in Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, New Plymouth and Wellington in the North Island and Christchurch and Dunedin in the South Island. Early favourites for the finals are Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Germany, England, The Netherlands, Japan and Italy.

The tournament is expected to draw some of the world’s top football stars and New Zealand anticipates over 7,000 fans to fly in and support their teams.

“These international events will help lift New Zealand’s reputation for world class events and add compelling reasons to visit the destination,’’ shared Mischa Mannix-Opie.
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A series of strong earthquakes jolted New Zealand Friday, the government's GeoNet monitoring service said. The first quake with a 6.6-magnitude, struck at 2.31 p.m. and was centred 10 km southeast of Seddon, a small town located on State Highway 1, 25 kilometres (16 mi) south of Blenheim, at a depth of 8 km. The quake was earlier reported at magnitude 6.2, but GeoNet later updated the measurement. Meanwhile, the US Geological Survey reported that the earthquake was measured 6.8 on the Richter scale. The Marlborough region in the northeast of the South Island was worst affected but the ripple effect was felt from Auckland in the North Island to Christchurch in the south. A huge traffic jam in the capital Wellington became chaotic after workers in the city rushed to their homes. Meantime aftershocks in Seddon encouraged many residents to desert their homes with many taking refuge in a Red Cross centre. There was a series of strong aftershocks, measuring from magnitude 4.2 to magnitude 5.8, which followed over the next hour, all centred in the same vicinity. One of the main highways out of Wellington was blocked by a rockfall and train services were suspended. Inspector Pete Cowan, of Wellington district police, urged people to be patient. "There is significant traffic on city centre roads and many people walking home and we ask people to take extra care," Cowan said in a statement. The Wellington Region Emergency Management Office said it had received no reports of major structural damage. There have been no reports of deaths or serious injury, experts however warn there may be more to come with aftershocks expected to continue over the weekend.
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New Zealand Star is a national online news service for the country, serving both the North and South islands.
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