Location: Auckland, Hamilton and Rotorua – NZ North Island
Highlight: Closely contested Cricket in Hamilton
We had high hopes of hustling, bustling city life from Auckland after our weeks at campsites in the middle of nowhere – as Londoners, we were ready to spend some time in the city again.
I’m an avid reader of the “most livable cities in the world” annual surveys, so I had high expectations from Auckland, as it regularly scores in the top 10.
As we found happen so often on our trip, our impression of a place was greatly influenced by the weather. Unfortunately for Auckland, it was miserable… So much so that I sadly found no shots worth sharing.
We did have a couple of fun nights with fellow travelers we met in our hostel, wandered around the trendy Ponsonby area, climbed to the top of Mount Eden, visited a decent harbour, but all in all I found it to be a less exciting version of Melbourne.
I had heard so many positive reviews from friends who had spent months and longer there, so perhaps we weren’t there long enough to properly appreciate the city’s value.
After 3 nights, we hopped on a bus to Hamilton on a rainy, rainy morning to watch cricket… For those who know anything about cricket – it doesn’t happen in the rain.
We checked into our hostel and checked out the forecast. I never check the forecasts because I don’t believe that they’re accurate enough to be relied upon, so why bother (‘random picture generator’ as my buddy Matt puts it), but whatever the forecast was showing, it couldn’t be as bad as the black clouds which stretched from one horizon to the other.
Checking the Hamilton cricket Twitter account every 5 minutes and it was clear that the match would be delayed, best case scenario.
After a couple of hours of watching the water come bucketing down, the covers came off the pitch and the game was reduced from 50 overs per side to 32 (35% less play for those non-cricket aficionados), we were just happy we would be watching some cricket!
It was an amazingly quaint pitch for staging international cricket. Sitting on the grassy banks, immersed in the action, all we needed was a good close match and we were set up for a top afternoon of entertainment.
As the clouds rolled away, the crowds rolled in.
The home side didn’t put a huge score on, meaning it had the potential to be a bit of a damp squib since South Africa didn’t need to rush anything and could still win comfortably.
We popped out to get some food nearby and came back to a lovely sunset as play recommenced for the NZ innings.
New Zealand started strongly and managed to make it a very interesting finish. The crowd was loving it, and we were chatting and celebrating with the (well lubricated) locals.
It was a nail biting finish, and NZ won with one ball to spare as their 21 year old rising star smashed a big six in the final over, and their main man AB de Villiers finished it off with a 4. Great entertainment all round.
Once we had slept off the excitement, we caught a bus to the lake town of Rotorua, famed for geothermal activity. Turns out that geothermal activity is pretty darned stinky.
We grabbed the best fish and chips in town (disappointingly they were oven chips) and chilled out by the lake watching the steam pouring out from the water and staring down prowling seagulls.
In the hope of finding somewhere without putrid air, we hitchhiked to a beautiful spot at another lake 30 minutes away by car. We walked the perimeter of it, stopping every now and again to cool off in the crystal clear water.
It was heavenly. You could swim and drink at the same time, it was tranquil, the sun was shining above. It was this natural beauty that I had fallen in love with in NZ. With the exception of Wanaka, none of the towns or cities we visited did anything for me, but I would still love to come back again for the diverse range of intriguing landscapes and natural habitats that New Zealand has to offer. It does do nice wine too.
We had an entertaining hitchhike back to Rotorua with a guy who was telling us about breaking into a concert where everyone was naked, then bus to Auckland airport, ready to catch a flight to Sydney for our East Coast of Australia adventure!
Late 20’s Crisis