Xtra v 1.0
For those of us building the damn thing, it was a combination of not-knowing-what-we-were-doing (1996 - did anyone?) and bonkers management decisions. Everyone remembers the ridiculous homepage - a fullscreen jpg that took about 3 min to load on a 28.8 modem - but you don't know how often we tried to talk the blokes in charge out of going with it. It was a time when the telcos the world over, including Xtra, expected to own the internet - why would anyone need to use any other sites? That arrogance permeated through everything.
I still think we did some good things with Xtra in those early days, experimenting with streaming audio and video, getting automated news feeds working and trying to get some user feedback and interaction going, but it clearly lacked any overarching strategy or direction.
As for other NZ sites of the time, I always liked the Bulls Bus Terminal, an early NZ music directory. I've just Googled it and can't find any reference to it - am I making it up?
At Xtra, we all read Aardvark, mainly to see what they'd be slagging us off about next ;-) I buggered off to London after two years at Xtra and loved Hard News by email. Still miss it for a snapshot of what's going on in NZ. Reading over this thread, it's great to hear of the innovation going on since.