Forum Information

Dear users, I have decided to phase out the posting on the forums on this website and move any discussions over to this private facebook group or join the Discord for realtime chat. I will not make the forums offline as there is a wealth of content, but posting has now been disabled. Thanks to all those who have contributed over the years, and I'll see you over on the Facebook group or Discord! -Tom

The Bullshit Free Dubstep and Glitch Hop Powercourse (Extreme)

I am very happy to announce the launch of my new tutorial series (and special last minute xmas gift voucher below)

Tom Cosm's Bullshit Free Dubstep and Glitch Hop Power Course. Extreme!

20 High Def videos covering the creation of a tune from start to finish, with a huge focus on 16 full power bassline patches, as well as 20 Ableton live project files to match each video.

I begin by laying down a drum beat, adding some fills, giving it some groove, then jump straight into the synthesis of heavy basslines. I start basic, explaining how things work, why things do what they do, the tools you have available, and end up with some of the most advanced and unique tricks and techniques my mind can come up with. Including:

  • Subtractive synthesis
  • Exploring the harmonic series
  • Frequency modulated (FM) synthesis
  • LFOs, Envelopes and Filters
  • Racks, Chains and Macros
  • Audio and Midi effects (including the vocoder)
  • EQing, Levels and Compression
  • Many other outside the square techniques to get unique sounds


Even if Dubstep/Glitch hop isn't your flavor, the straight to the point "no f#@ing around" pace should get your brain juiced up and ready to smash out your own style.

I've put up one of the videos on youtube so you can get a vibe as to how the series flows :

This series is available immediately to pro members right now from the Pro Download Archive.

I really hope you enjoy this new series and learn a lot from it! I've really enjoyed creating it.

Cheers, Tom


I'm Still Alive + New Live Set Recording

Wow what a bloody few months I've had! You might have noticed the updates on the website have been a bit slow (I've been keeping my facebook/twitter updated however - links up the top right) because i been buzzing around meeting people...teaching...playing...partying...being a tourist... you name it.

Now I am back in Melbourne I can finally spend some time to get all the things i was supposed to have done by now finished... and that feels pretty good :)

I've got so many new videos in my head that need to be made so stay tune over the next few months for those.

The album is so close to completion it hurts. I'll update more about that soon.

In the meantime here's my live set from the ArtOfficial Afterparty that happened last weekend.

Tom Cosm - Live at ArtOfficial After Party 2011 by TomCosm


Live 8 vs. Live 8 Intro - A Comparison for Newbies

So you've made the decision to purchase Ableton Live 8 and start producing, but you want to know whether to splash out for the full version, or purchase the cheaper but limited Live Intro.

This guide is for people who have very little or no knowledge of production, and need a bit of a hand with the comparison chart.

I will go through each of the points listed on the official Ableton site and comment on what the limitations actually mean.

Live Intro
Live 8


Maximum number of audio tracks per project

Ableton Live has two types of tracks you can create, Audio and MIDI. Tracks are individual layers, a place where something can be placed and then told what to do (think of an empty chair in an Orchestral layout, you define what instrument goes on what chair). Audio tracks are where audio files live. They could be samples or audio snippets you have (a audio file of a kick drum for example) or they could contain an entire audio track, like an MP3 you've downloaded.

64 of these is a very generous limit for Intro, if you are planning on doing a lot of live instrument recording work then you will have more than enough!

Maximum number of MIDI tracks per project

MIDI tracks on the other hand always contain some kind of machine... it could be a synthesizer or it could be a sampler (a machine that contains a sample of something like a keyboard, that can then be played using notes). These machines get fed information and then do something, for example if you had a synthesizer on your MIDI track, you would then put some notes on the MIDI track that tell the synthesizer what melody to play.

Unlimited of these is again a very generous limit!

Maximum audio bit depth and resolution

Without getting too technical, bit depth is how deep your audio quality can get. 32-bit is very high (in my opinion, there's not much point going beyond this unless you have an extremely fine tuned ear for detail). The resolution is how fast Live can process the audio depth, and again 192kHz is very very fast.

Maximum number of audio inputs
2 stereo

If you are recording something into Live, you need to have audio inputs to do this. Intro gives you 2 stereo, meaning you can have two inputs with both a left and right channel coming in at the same time.

If you wanted to mic up a whole band, or have more than two instruments (four if you record in mono), and record them all in one take, this would make things difficult for you.

Of course you can have an audio input going into one audio track, record something, then change the input to another audio track... but having more than 2 is impossible.

Maximum number of audio outputs
2 stereo

The restriction here would only really hold you back if you had a sound card that has more than 4 outputs (or 2 stereo LEFT/RIGHT outputs). Most people who want to produce only need 1 stereo output, the master output that gets fed out of your computer and into your sound system.

If you are interested in DJing with Live but want to mix your tracks on an external mixing device, you can have 1 output going to a channel on your external mixer, and the other output going to another. This way Live is sending 2 separate audio streams out of the computer, so you can mess with them outside.

This restriction isn't going to cause you much trouble, unless you want to output lots of stuff at once.

Includes Simpler instrument for sample-based synthesis

The Simpler instrument is a machine that lets you load 1 sound or sample into it, then play it like an actual instrument. For example you have a vocal sample of someone singing "la". You can load this into Simpler on a MIDI track, then by either playing notes on an external keyboard, or manually entering notes into the computer, you can make that sample sing different pitches.

Includes Impulse instrument for percussion sound design

The Impulse instrument is similar to Simpler, but it has 8 separate slots for 8 separate sounds. This machine is mainly used for loading up 8 different percussion sounds. For example, you have 8 different sounds of someone hitting a bongo drum, you can then load these into the 8 slots in Impulse, then send Impulse some rhythmic information on when and how to play each one of the sounds so it sounds a natural drummer playing.

Maximum number of Ableton instruments per project

Live intro comes with two native instruments (Impulse and Simpler). Ableton have developed other very in depth instruments such as synthesizers and complex samplers, however Intro only comes with Impulse and Simpler (no synthesizers, but that can be fixed which I will discuss a bit more soon). You can use only 8 separate instances of these two instruments in a project.

This could potentially be a restriction to you if you want a lot of complexity. For example, you have a Kick drum, that equals 1 instrument, then a snare, that's another, then some high hats, that's another... eventually you will hit 8 and run out.

However, if you are very new to production, 8 is a perfect amount to get on your feet while you are learning.

Number of included Ableton audio effects

Audio effects are devices that you put on your tracks, which alter the audio in different ways. For example, lets say you have a bassline on one track, but it doesn't sound perfect. You want to take off some of the high end and make it more deep, so you would need to load an audio effect (an EQ for example) to remove those highs. Then you might want to make it wobble around, this would be another effect.

Intro comes with 23 different types of effects, and these are all very helpful. The other 6 that you miss out on are not really aimed towards beginners, and are for the hard core!

The 23 effects that come with Intro are by far enough for you to start out.

Maximum number of Ableton audio effects per project

Even thou you have access to 23, Intro allows you to use only 12 in total in your entire project. To me this would be one of the most restricting points of Intro.

I tend to use between 3-5 effects per track... so you can see by having a track with many layers would soon run you to your limit.

There are various things you can do to get around this, for example the process of re sampling, or internally recording what you've done, gives you a clean audio copy of the track and effects you just created, which then frees up your limit again at the cost of not being able to go back and change the original effects.

Think of putting toppings on a pizza, running out of space so you cook it, then once it's a whole cooked single unit, add some more stuff. You can go forward, but not back. You could potentially keep cooking this indefinitely. Now I'm hungry, brb.

Number of included Ableton MIDI effects

MIDI effects are an interesting set of tools that you can place between your machine (synthesizer etc) and the notes that you are telling it to play.

An example is the Note Length MIDI effect. Placing this between the notes you play and the synth will change how long the notes are played for before feeding them to the synth, so you could hold your note for 4 seconds, but if the Note Length effect is intercepting it and is set to only 2 seconds, the synth will only play for 2 seconds.

You have all of these, so nothing to worry about here :)

Maximum number of Ableton MIDI effects per project

You can use as many of these MIDI effects as you want.

Group tracks

Grouping tracks in Live means taking a bunch of tracks or layers you have created, then grouping them all together in their own little place. If you've got 8 tracks of percussion (kick, snare, hihats, bongos etc) you could group these all together, allowing you to add audio effects to the entire group at once (adding a delay or echo to all the percussion etc).

Intro doesn't allow you to do this. While grouping tracks can be handy, and pleasing to the eye, it's not a vital part of producing.


The Looper is a special device designed for people who want to create live jams using only one input, and loop / repeat each thing they do over and over, mixing it with the previous sounds. An example would be someone beat boxing into a mic, looping it, then singing a bassline, looping that over the beat box, then adding more vocal effects etc.

This device is very specifically for people who want to do live performances in this fashion.


A Vocoder is a device that mixes one sound source with another in a special way, creating a single sound from two. The most common use is to mix someone's voice with a synthesizer, creating a robot speaking/singing effect.

Even though this tool is amazing and can be used in many creative ways, it's not something you need to jump into when starting out.

Multiband dynamics

Multiband dynamics is an advanced way to give or subtract space from a sound by compressing or expanding certain parts of it, so that it can fit in and mix well with other sounds that also share the same audio range (usually!).

I still have trouble getting my head around it sometimes, and you won't be missing much in your early stages of production.


The Overdrive effect is a way of distorting a sound and making it grungy/crushed, similar to how some guitar pedals work.

Frequency Shifter

The Frequency Shifter takes the original sound, and processes it in a way that the pitch moves up/down or all over the place.

You can easily change the pitch of sounds in Live Intro without using this device, it's more of a tool to create interesting sounds rather than practically for moving pitch up and down.

External VST/AU instrument instances per project

VST/AU instruments are machines that people other than Ableton produce. There are literally thousands out there that do all kinds of things. Ableton lets you use these inside Live like you would something native to Live.

There are some expensive and very professional instruments out there, but there are also lots of free ones that do the same job as the paid for ones.

Since Intro doesn't come with a native synthesizer, you would use VST instruments to do this. VST Instruments can also be Samplers, or devices that let you load sounds into them and do all kinds of crazy stuff.

Having VST support is your gateway to really push the limitations of Intro, even though you can only use 4 per project, you can "flatten" down a track once your happy with the sound, which will turn the VST track into an Audio track, letting you load another VST.

To get an idea of what sort of instruments you can load as VST/AU, check out

External VST/AU effect instances per project

VST/AU effects are similar to the instruments, except they go AFTER a machine and change the sound once it's produced. Again there are thousands of these out there, lots of which are free, that do everything from mangling up your sound, to giving you an easy way to make your overall tune sound fat.

You have 6 of these in Intro, slightly restricting, but keep in mind you can also add up to 12 Live native effects which can often achieve the same desired goal.

Effect sidechaining

Sidechaining is a process in which something in one instrument or plugin, changes something in another. The most common example of this is putting a compressor (something that compresses or lowers the volume of a sound) on your bassline, and telling the compressor to sidechain from the kick drum. By doing this, every time your kick drum punches, the compressor will quickly lower down the bass so that the low frequencies of both don't clash and create a muddy sub sound.

Another example would be in radio. When the announcer speaks, the music is automatically lowered in volume, then when the speaking stops the volume comes back up.

Instrument-, Drum-, Effect Rack editing

Racks are one of Live's most powerful features. In a nutshell, a rack is like a virtual stack of multiple machines or effects chained together in different ways. You can use racks to create some seriously complex machines of your own, and assigning knobs to do specific things to different parts of all the components.

Intro doesn't allow you to create or edit racks, but it does let you load them up and tweak the parameters that have be predefined by the rack creator (most likely the ones that matter most!).

It's a shame that you can't create your own, however to tackle this Intro comes with a MASSIVE 7 gigabytes of audio content for the boxed version, and 1 gigabyte if you download it. That's heaps! And you'll be sure to have all sorts of racks with all sorts of instruments, beats and sounds at your fingertips.

Time signature changes

Being able to change the time signature means at some time in a track, you change the rhythmical feeling, or amount of a certain type of beats in a bar.

Session View

Session view is a way of looking and working in Live. In this view, all your tracks or layers are in vertical columns, and in each column you have clip slots where information is kept (audio samples, information to send to synthesizers etc) which you can click and trigger. This mode is made for performing and jamming, giving you the ability to muck around real time and mix different things you have created together.

It's also the view used if you are DJing, so you can see all your tracks and have them ready to play and a click.

Maximum number of groove patterns

Groove patterns are sets of instructions that can be applied to a loop or a rhythmical set of notes, that slightly change the way they behave. Let's say you recording someone strumming chords on a guitar, and they rhythm they twanged was a particular groove. You could then extract that groove, as in Live will analyze it and find the rhythm and store it in a pool of grooves. You can then apply that groove to some drum beats you've programmed, so they play along in time perfectly with the guitar.

Being restricted to 4 of these will not be an issue, I rarely use more than 1 in an entire tune.

Maximum number of scenes per project

In Session view, scenes are horizontal rows that contain information to get sent to each track. If you had 4 tracks (Kick, Snare, Bass, Synth), you can put information in the clip slots which tell each track how to actually play. If you have 4 clip slots in the same horizontal row, you can trigger that entire row as a Scene, which will start playing all 4 of them at the same time.

Having 8 could be a bit of a restriction if you had more than 8 different ways you want a track or instrument to play. For example, you might have a bongo track, and you want that track to play differently throughout your tune or performance. You would only be able to have 8 variations.

If you want to DJ with Live, this could also restrict you to a degree, as you would have 1 track as your Deck A, and another track as your Deck 2... for each deck you could only have 8 tracks loaded up ready to play at once (however you can drag new tracks onto clip slots that aren't being played and replace them with no audio stopping).

"Complex" and "Complex Pro" Warp Mode

When you load audio that isn't an individual hit (a single drum hit for example) you often need to Warp the audio, or lock it in so will play in time with everything else. If you were to load in a drum loop for example, you need to tell Live when it starts and finishes, so that when you play it, it loops it perfectly without interruption between replays.

When you Warp something that is a different speed to your original tune (Say a drum loop that is 120bpm, playing in a track that is 130bpm), Live has to use special formulas to stretch or compress this loop without making it sound crap.

Live's in built formulas are usually pretty good for things like drum loops and synth loops, but when you want to do this to an entire tune (an mp3 downloaded from Beatport etc), you really need to use advanced formulas because there is so much to stretch/compress.

Complex and Complex Pro warp modes are very advanced and can squish or expand an entire a song with very little loss in quality.

If you want to DJ with Live, this could be a problem for you. Of course you can choose "Pitch" mode, which will treat the tune just like it's being played on a turn table (so when the tune is slowed down, the pitch lowers, and when sped up, the pitch raises), but if you want to stretch or compress a song while maintaining the pitch, not having Complex and Complex Pro mode will be a burden.

Multiple automation lanes

When you are composing your song, and you want a parameter of a machine or effect to change over time, you can draw lines that tell that parameter how to act over time. For example, if you want the volume of something to slowly creep in, you can draw a line moving up over time, which will automate the volume to rise.

Multiple automation lanes means you can view every parameter you have manipulated on the screen at once, so if you have automated the volume and the panning (left - right) of a track, you can see and edit these on the screen at the same time.

Native audio slicing support

This means you are not able to automatically slice up audio. A use for this would be loading up a drum loop, then slicing it up so that each individual hit would be taken out as an individual sound, letting you rearrange how the drum loop is played. You can do this manually, but it takes time.

Maximum number of send and return tracks per project

Send / Return tracks are tracks that sit off to the side and wait for something to be sent to them. They can't have machines or samples on them like normal tracks, but they can have effects sitting there ready to go. The way I personally use them is lets say I have a echo effect that I want various different parts of my song to use at various different times. When I want the snare to echo, I can send it to that track... then when I want the synth to echo, I send it to the same track.

It's a great way to save up CPU power and have effects that can be applied to everything.

Having 2 shouldn't be much of a restriction, if you are performing live you could probably do with more, but 2 is a nice amount for when you start out.

Track Freeze

Freezing allows you to temporarily mix down a track. Let's say I have a bassline which is quite complex... a synth then a load of effects. I've got the sound I want, I've got it playing the notes in the right places, so I can freeze it. This means that the synth and effects are no longer processing, but an audio mix down plays instead. The beauty of this is if you do want to change something, you can unfreeze it, change something, then freeze it again.

Clip envelopes and Follow Actions

Clip envelops are like automating a parameter, except it happens within a clip or a loop. If you have a drum loop, but you want the snare to be a lower volume, you can draw a volume line on the clip so that only the snare is lowered, then when this clip is looped the snare will always do the same thing. This allows you to change the overall volume of the track, but keeping the snare lowering it's volume relative to whatever the original volume is.

Follow Actions are a small set of instructions that can be applied to a clip that tell it what to do after it's finished playing. For example, you have two drum loops and you know you want the second to start playing after the first one has played 8 times. You can set a Follow Action on the first clip that specifically tells it to play the next one after it's done 8 bars.

This is really handy in a live situation where you need things to progress without you mucking about with it.

External Instrument/Audio Effect devices

These devices are a bit different, they are made to incorporate external instruments and effects from outside your computer. Unless you are a hardware nut, this is not going to be a worry for you.

Automatic plug-in delay compensation

Some devices need to "look ahead" in order to function properly as they need analyze something in order to operate correctly. Live does this automatically and it's almost impossible to tell to the ear.

Tempo Nudge

Tempo Nudge is only really handy if you are doing a DJ mix with Live and external DJ gear, or using Live as an instrument jamming along with a band. It's like nudging a record or CDJ up or down to get it in sync with the track that is already playing. A quick boost or decline of speed if you are slightly out of time.

MIDI remote control instant mapping

By simply going into MIDI map mode, you can click on a parameter within Live then touch a knob, fader or button on your external control device. Live will pick this up and instantly assign that knob/fader/button to that parameter.

MIDI output to hardware synths

Instead of loading up a machine (sampler/synthesizer) in your MIDI tracks, you can output the MIDI information (notes, rhythm etc) outside of Live to external gear.

Let's say you have an old fat Moog synth that you want to use in your tune, you could plug this into the MIDI out on your sound card, then control it with information you create inside Live.

MIDI Clock/sync

This allows you to sync up Live with other devices, such as another computer using Live, or an external synth/sampler. You can set it so that the other gear follows along with the speed that you are working with in Ableton, as well as when to stop/start.


ReWire is a way of internally routing audio applications and using them both at the same time. You could be using Fruity Loops, then ReWire this into Live so you can record all your loops from Fruity into clip slots in Live.

REX file support

Rex files are a way of storing tempo sync able loops. It is a format that is used by an audio chopping application called ReCycle. It can be a handy way to store not only the audio of a loop, but the information needed for a program to know how to loop it and slice it up.

If you don't know what Rex files are, and don't have any, this is not a concern.

Multicore/multiprocessor support

This allows processing information from the things you are using in live, to be better distributed amongst the free resources. This is something you need to turn on in preferences. If you have multiple cores in your computer, you can significantly speed up Live.

SmartPriming memory management

SmartPriming is a way Live deals with samples and sample libraries, making it easier and faster to work with multiple samples.

POW-R dithering

Dithering is a way of adding very small amounts of noise to a mix down or sound to "fill in the gaps" in a way that is pleasant and often undetectable to the human ear. POW-R dithering is another way of doing this, but pushes the noise into a place where the human ear can't hear it.

You won't miss this unless you are an audio purist.

Video import and export

Live lets you drag a video into an audio track, letting you watch the video real time while you compose. This is good if you plan on using Live for audio scoring film/video.

If you don't plan on writing music to match visual stuff, you don't need this.

WAV, AIFF, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC file support

These are different types of audio file formats, with different styles of compression. Live lets you drag these types of audio into an audio track, letting you edit and change it like a normal audio file.

Compatible with The Bridge

The Bridge is a way that Ableton and Serato (A popular DJ software application) can work together fluently. You must also own Serato in order to use the Bridge.

Intro does not support integration with Serato.

To sum it up, if you are brand spanking new and on a budget, Intro is a great option. You can always upgrade when you start really feeling the restrictions. Even though Intro lacks a native synthesizer, the ability to use external VST instruments and effects is a great bonus, and will allow you to easily find something that suits your style as it develops.

If you have any questions regarding anything listed here, please head over to the forums and ask away, someone is bound to help you.

Click here to visit the official Ableton Live product page


How to use a Vocoder

Apologies for the lack of updates recently! I am moving house and doing a little trip around Australia. In the meantime, here's a video on how to use the vocoder properly in Live.


Minecraft vs Ableton Live

I have combined my usual addiction of writing beats with a new little addiction, Minecraft. In this project I have recreated some of the characters and blocks from the game in Ableton Live, and turned them into a step sequencer in which to write music.

This project is part of the current Pro Member Weekly Challenge, a tast where members of my personal website get together and try to create new and unique things using stranges methods to help spark creativity.


Creating a Sequencer with Follow Actions

I created a sequencer in session view using follow actions and strange routing to create a sequencer.


3 Ways to Create Whoosh Build Up Noises

I created this video on how I made the three whoosh up noises.


Welcome to New Zealand - A Guide for Party People


New Zealand is a great place and I encourage you to come and visit if you get the chance! In this post I am going to write and list the key places and things to do if you are into the dance music / crazy fun times scene.

The first place you should check out and bookmark is Delicious Music, which has a blog that keeps up to date with all the latest happenings. There is a public forum where any questions you may have will be answered, and loads of 100% free original kiwi electronic music.

Parties / Festivals

Like most places, Summer is the time to come to NZ if you want to experience parties and festivals.


  • Luminate Festival - A life style festival at one of New Zealand's most beautiful locations - Canaan Downs. This festival has a thriving electronic and non-electronic music lineup, but also has a great selection of other things to do such as healing, workshops and arts/crafts.
  • Kiwiburn - New Zealand's Burning Man Festival. "Kiwiburn is a collective experience. Everybody contributes, everybody pays. As there are no paid performers at the event, there are no spectators and what is shared are the passions and dreams of those who gift them. You cannot "attend" Kiwiburn, but you can be a part of it."


  • Alien Nation - One of New Zealand's longest running psychedelic events. I've been going since 2003 and they are still going strong. This is out in the bush and it gets pretty wild! Come and party with the Kiwi crew.


  • M.A.S.S.I.V.E Autumn Equinox - Massive are a crew of people who have been throwing parties ever since I was a young teenager. They put on 4 events per year - two equinox parties and two solstices. They always pull a decent crowd and play a mix of all sorts. I recommend going to these parties with everything I've got... regardless of which one you go to, you will have a great time. Locations are always somewhere beautiful outdoors.


  • M.A.S.S.I.V.E Winter Solstice - An outdoor party in the middle of winter. This one is cold, and it's been known to snow (depending on the location which changes every year) - but this doesn't stop the crowds from coming. Bring WARM clothes and wet weather gear. Chances you will leave this party covered in mud.


  • M.A.S.S.I.V.E Spring Equinox - The largest of the Massive parties, this outdoor event always has a wide mix of music to get stomping to. HIGHLY recommend going to this one. Massive parties are always awesome (I mean it).


  • Voyage Festival - An outdoor electronic festival that has grown into something amazing over the last few years. If you like twisted psy, prog, techno, dubstep and glitch, this is the place to get freaky.


    • M.A.S.S.I.V.E Summer Solstice - The second largest Massive party... this time it's nice and warm. As usual a great night out and loads of awesome music.
    • PHAT - New Zealand's ultimate broken beat/heavy bass New Years party. Always boasting a huge lineup of big names in Drum n Bass and Dubstep. Lots of people and high energy, an absolute must if you like anything with lots of bass.
    • Rhythm and Vines - The largest New Years event in NZ. Targeted a little bit more mainstream, Rhythm and Vines brings some of the worlds finest bands and acts to its stage, as well as a strong kiwi lineup! The first place in the world to see the sunrise of the New Year.
    • Coromandel Gold - Another New Years event held in the amazing Coromandel. "Throw in fireworks, beer gardens, tasty kiwi food and great tunes"
    • Highlife - A New Years party on Waiheke Island (I've spent a lot of time here during my life, it's really beautiful - great if you like wine tasting). It's held on a vineyard and has a wide range of music including House, Funk, Soul, Electro, Dubstep, Hip-Hop, R'nB, Dub, Latin, Jazz and more
    • LaDeDa - Another party on a vineyard - La De Da has a big lineup of NZ Bands and DJs.


Tickets? Check


If you are keen on working while you are here, there are a few places online that can help you find work. - probably the largest website that lists jobs of all types. - a lot of travelers like to do fruit picking when they come here. If you work hard and fast you can earn quite a lot of cash, and a lot of farms can accommodate you also. Fruit picking around the Golden Bays in the summer is a great way to earn money, meet people and be close to where the good parties are at!


Getting around NZ is fairly easy. It's not a large country, and you can get from the top to the bottom in a few days by land if you need to.

Coaches - The best way to pay in my opinion. Keep an eye on the Naked Bus website which offers the cheapest tickets.

Flights - Flights between the main centers (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch) are frequent and pretty cheap. Check Webjet to find the cheapest flight between cities, then go to the official airlines site to book the flight if you want to avoid the fees (or don't if you want to support their service).

For last minute super cheap flights, keep an eye on Grabaseat.

Train - An expensive option! The trains here are more targeted towards tourists with money who want a scenic route. I've never traveled on the trains personally, but they have won awards and are apparently very very beautiful. Check out Tranzscenic

Hitchhiking - hitching as a single male, I've never had a single problem sticking my thumb out in NZ. Most Kiwis are characters and will gladly chat to you if you are interested. Usual caution should be taken obviously, I wouldn't recommend it for solo females, but a pair would be sweet as. If your trained in kung fu however go for it. A few tips...

  • It's illegal to be a pedestrian on the motorway, and you'll find the police pretty quickly. The best places to get picked up are usually just before... it can be worth catching a public bus as far as you can towards a motor way and hitching from there.
  • If you don't like the person who pulls up, ask them where they are going first then say you are going somewhere else.
  • If you're a dodgy looking male, I find reading a book helps get you picked up fast (and is a good conversation starter).
  • Try to avoid getting dropped off in any of the Passes, or anywhere where the forest is dense and there are rivers around. We have sand flies over here which are like a cross between a mosquito and a fly, very annoying and can ruin your day very quick if your stuck where they have been breeding. I fucking hate them.
  • It's not customary to offer any money, but if you can chip in for petrol it would always be appreciated.
  • If you are hitching to a party, find the event on Facebook and make a post that you are after a lift, Kiwi's are super friendly and you will find a ride in no time. Usually chipping in for petrol is the norm.


Tipping - Don't, no one expects it at all. Sometimes taxi drivers will knock some cents off the tab if it rounds down to something simple, and it goes the other way too, if its $19.20, give em twenty and let them keep the change.

Currency - We use New Zealand Dollars and Cents. Our lowest coin is the 10 cent coin, our largest note is the 100 dollar note. Look closely at our 50 dollar notes, they have little purple mushrooms on them hehe.

Bank Accounts - There are few big banks in NZ who are all pretty much the same. The locally owned bank is Kiwibank. I can't really recommend which one to go for here. Westpac is who I am with and I am pretty happy with them. I don't know what you need for an account, you may have to prove that you have been in the country for a certain amount of time so make sure you get your passport stamped at immigration.

Health and Safety

In an emergency, dial 111 and ask for police, ambulance or fire depending on what you need.

New Zealand has a good healthcare system. If you are sick, check out for your nearest center.

Poisonous Animals - We don't really have any. There are no snakes, and only two spiders than can give you a decent bite.

  • White Tail - These bastards come from Australia. They are usually found in houses wandering around. They are nomads and don't weave a web, instead they cruise around hunting other friendly spiders. They have a distinctive white dot/tail on their ass. If you see one, either kill it or get it far away... their bite can be nasty. I don't think it can kill adults, but if you get bitten I recommend going to see a doctor quickly.
  • Katipo - These are endangered so try not to kill them please. It's pretty rare to find one, they live in Sand Dunes and by the ocean. They are little with a sort of hour glass shape on their back. Their bite can be nasty so again, go to a doctor if you get bitten.

Nothing else will kill you here, unless you try to take on a wild Boar with your bare hands or something. Mosquitoes and Sand Flies can be a pain in the ass, so if you go bush, bug repellant is a must.

Sex Stuff - There's the usual sexually transmitted stuff going around so always be safe. HIV is very very low, so is syphilis. Just don't be stupid and you'll be alright. There are free sexual health clinics in NZ, here's a list.

Earthquakes - We get them, sometimes frequently. At the time of this article, a 7.1 quake rocked the south island, and caused lots of damage. If you find yourself in an earthquake, drop to the ground, find cover and hold on. Here is some more information.

Sun - New Zealand has a high rate of skin cancer. We are under the hole in the ozone, and the sun can burn you a lot quicker than most places (including when it is cloudy). It is very important to wear sunscreen and a hat when you are out in the sun. Very important!!!


Drugs are illegal. Avoid doing them. Tom says don't do drugs.

But if you do here's some advice.

  • Everything is expensive, prepared to be shocked.
  • Don't smoke pot anywhere you will be caught.
  • People like to roll their joints with no tobacco here.
  • The cops can stop you when your driving and swab your tongue. This picks up nearly everything, so don't take anything and drive.
  • There are a wide variety of legal highs available from Cosmic Corner (that actually work).
  • BZP used to be legal, but now it's not. If you binge on BZP, be prepared to talk lots and feel like shit for a few days afterwards.
  • Trying to buy medicine with Pseudo ephedrine in it will get you checked out. "P" has been a big problem here, and everyone is on lock down to try and stop people making it.
  • Magic Mushrooms grow lots of places around Autumn/Winter, however we have mushrooms that will end your life quickly, so don't pick things and eat them without someone experienced having a look. Seriously, people come to NZ and think it's a magical fungi candy land, it's not... don't do it unless you are 100% sure. We have loads of Amanita Muscaria (Those red and white spotty ones that Faries sit on) that people sometimes like to eat, but nearly every year some backpacker is in the newspaper for eating too many, taking off all their clothes and getting lost in the forest overnight. It costs us lots to go find you so please don't be that person.

The safest option is to not do any drugs at all.


The drinking age is 18. If you look under 25 you will get ID'd. The only forms of ID you can produce are

  • New Zealand Drivers Licence
  • +18 Card
  • Current Passport
  • NOTHING ELSE will be accepted

Supermarkets are the worst and will ID you every time, even if you have a huge beard and dreadlocks down to your ass.

Good cheap beer

  • Steinlarger
  • Tasman Bitter
  • Monteiths Original Ale
  • Bear Beer

Bad cheap beer (avoid at all costs)

  • Double Brown
  • Flame

If you wanna get really smashed on beer go to Harrington's breweries and get a rigger of Ngahere Gold which has 8% alcoholic value. If you get spotted in public drinking it you will be put into "homeless person" category.

Cheapest way to get drunk is Boxed Wine. Boxed wine is called bladder wine or goon sacks. A goon sack usually goes around in the morning after a big night at parties. The best brand in my opinion is Country Medium White or Dry. The coolest person at any party is the person with the goon sack.

Drink driving is stupid and the cops will bust you hard if you get caught, and they like to catch people.

Drinking in some public places is illegal and will get you a large fine. Most city centers have a liquor ban unless you are in a bar or a pub. Don't walk around the streets with an open bottle.

You can only buy Beer and Wine in the supermarkets, for Liquor you will need to go to a Liquor store.


We are well keen on recycling here. We love our green country. There are three bins:

  • Red - General Waste (goes to landfill, keep this as low as possible)
  • Yellow - Recycling (metal, paper, card, some plastics)
  • Green - Organic (Food scraps, things that biodegrade fast and have no chemicals... think composting)

For a comprehensive list of what can be recycled and the symbols, go here


Wotif seems to have a comprehensive list of hotels and places to stay in NZ

For cheap accommodation check out

Staying in camping grounds can also be a great option. Most camping grounds have cabins for rent, or hire caravans which can be a lot cheaper than a hotel... and if you have your own tent, even cheaper! You can find a list of camping grounds here.

The Department of Conservation has a bunch of FREE camping grounds in key locations in NZ, including some really unique beautiful spots. You can stay here free of charge for as long as you like (but a donation is encouraged if you can!). These places have a "leave as you found it" policy so you need to keep things clean and green. Kiwi's are proud of our native bush and forest, and we work hard to keep them free of trash, so please take everything with you (including ciggie butts which kill our native snails) For a list of DOC camping sites, visit

A few camping tips

  • If you shit in the woods, dig a deep hole. Don't shit or piss within 20 meters of a river and contaminate it. Our water is pure and people drink it straight from the river.
  • It can get really cold at night, even in the summer. If you are up high, be prepared for extreme temperatures.
  • If you are going deep bush, always tell someone where you are going, and register your trip with the local DOC center so if you don't come back on time, they can go and find you.
  • If you like getting naked, there are several camps and beaches you can go. Check
  • It's a good idea to boil water if it comes from the hills where there are live stock due to risk of giardia.
  • Lots of our native birds and animals are endangered so don't go killing and eating anything unless you know its legal.


Kiwi's are friendly but can seem a bit strange at first. We like to use lots of sarcasm and make jokes about things that aren't actually funny, but find the fact that it's not funny the funny part. Some Kiwi's like to pray on people who aren't used to this, so if you find someone making an outrageous, illogical claim... make one back. This can go on for a long time however, so make sure you allocate a certain percentage of your day to this.

Most people will ask you how you are to be polite... in shops and restaurants a quick "How's it going" is usually customary.

People usually thank each other for services as well... if you get off a bus make sure you say thanks to the driver, and a "cheers!" as you walk out of a shop is good. Don't do this in a supermarket.. they are a little more commercial and less personal.

Below is a list of Kiwi sayings you will need to know.

Sick : Good. Example - "This is fucking sick bro!"

Bro : Friend. Example - "Hey bro!"

  • If Bro falls at the end of a sentence, it adds an element of casualness to the feeling. Example - "Give us a hoon on your misus bro."
  • If Bro begins a sentence, then you need to take serious note of what is about to be said. Example - "Bro, does this look infected to you?"
  • If Bro is said on it's own, the tonality defines the meaning:
    • A quick sudden "Bro" means give me your attention
    • A long dragged out in a low voice - "Brrrrooooooooo" means "I am not sure I agree with what you are doing"
    • A medium to short "Brrrooo" means "I acknowledge what you are saying or doing" (This can have a "true" at before or after the "Bro" example - "True bro" or "Broooo, true"
    • A "bro" combined with a laugh - "Broooahhohoohoho" can be used as a greeting to someone you haven't seen for a long time.
    • A stern short "Bro" with a serious look means "cut it out"
    • There are many more complicated versions that you will have to learn for yourself.

Deadly : Extremely Sick

Dairy : Little shops on corners that sell a bunch of things you'd buy on a quick supermarket stop. Milk, Bread, Cleaning Products, Fast foods (Pies!)... that sort of thing.

Boy-racer : Testosterone fueled noisy car dudes with rich parents.

Bugger : A Curse. Example - "Bugger that!" (I am not keen).

Chilly Bin : Temperature holding device in which to keep beer and goon sacks cold.

Choice : Good. Example - "That's choice bro!"

Dag : Funny man. Example - "He's a bit of a dag!"

Ahy : Informing the recipient of a question or an acknowledgement. Example - "Ahy?" or "Ahy!"

Gummies : Rubber boots to keep your feet dry at outdoor parties.

Jandals : Thongs or Flip Flips. Simple Sandals.

Root : Sex. Example - "Giz a root"

Pack a Sad / Drop your Sack / Spit the Dummy : The point where you change from feeling good to feeling bad / annoyed.

Sweet As : Everything is great.

Wop Wops : Far away from the city. Example - "The party is out in the wop wops"


These are the indigenous people of New Zealand. They were here before use whiteys (Pakeha) came along. Their history, culture and language is very beautiful and unique, and I highly highly encourage you to spend some time getting familiar with it while you are here. Here's a website that will give you the basics.

Here's a few sayings that will help you.

Kia ora — Hello
Kia ora tatou — Hello everyone
Tena koe — Greetings to you (said to one person)
Tena koutou — Greeting to you all
Haere mai — Welcome
Nau mai — Welcome
Kei te pehea koe? — How’s it going?
Kei te pai — Good
Tino pai — Really good
Haere ra — Farewell
Ka kite ano — Until I see you again (Bye)
Hei konei ra — See you later

And check out Billy T James, a famous Māori comedian. If you like this, you will fit in here just fine.


I hope this guide has given you some basic knowledge on what to expect from this country. We are a quirky bunch, but fairly simple and straight forward. We like having a good time, and we like smiling...

Enjoy your stay bro!


Do you think something is wrong or something else should be added? Please use the comments below and let me know what needs to be changed. At the moment, I am specifically looking for the best and cheapest places to eat in all of the main centers. Cheers!

Download the Earthquake Tune Ableton Project

Glad people like the tune! If you want to get your hands on the project file, so you can see how it was made, do your own remix, change anything... simply share the tune somewhere (forum, Twitter, Facebook...) and let me know, ill link you directly to the file.

Pro members can simply log in and download it straight away from the Download Archive.



First Experience with the Novation Launchpad

I have two sparkley new Novation Launchpad's which I have been playing with over the last few weeks. As I get used to these fantastic machines, I will make video updates on what I am doing with them.

This video is a short jam I recorded in a hotel in Amsterdam, and the following video is an explanation of how everything is done.

I will post more videos every few weeks with my progress updates.

The Explanation



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