"I hope there's a bit of controversy in the game"

Trip Start Aug 07, 2011
Trip End Jul 14, 2012

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Sunday, October 16, 2011

Andy here today.

On the Friday we made our way back down from the Northlands to Orewa Beach where we stayed at the Top 10 Holiday Park.  This was just a stop-over because it wasn't that far from Manukau where we were staying for the game again on Saturday. Again the campsite was nice, right next to the beach over-looking the ocean - Ruakaka was still the number one though!

On Saturday we woke up to glorious sunny skies which was great because we hoped for a great Wales vs France semi-final game without any rain. During the day Fran had actually made friends with a ticket tout who said he had some tickets for the Aus V NZ semi final on Sunday for only $250 (this was an amazing deal and well below the face value of $510). It was a game we really wanted to see so we said we'd think about it and talk to Jon and Laura to see what they thought.  We made it to Manukau in plenty of time.  Jon and Laura had already checked in and so we had a couple of beers and caught up about the previous week.  We decided to take the tout up on his offer and Fran managed to get him down to $200 each, absolute bargain!  We didn't really have the money for this but when else are we going to see NZ v Aus in a semi final of the RWC cup at Eden Park! Never, so what the heck! You only live once!

Afterwards we managed to get a free bus to Eden Park which was a bonus as it was only supposed to be free transport 3 hours before any of the world cup games for ticket holders. After a beer at the Irish bar near the stadium we headed to the ground.

Even though the weather had started out promising, just as we got to the stadium it started to pee down. It didn't look hopeful for a classic game and 2 minutes before the game Laura put the nail in the coffin when she said "I hope there's a bit of controversy in the game today" because 18 minutes into the match she got her wish with the Sam Warburton red card! Oops!

It didn't totally ruin the game mind, as Wales put up a spirited fight and had chances to win it but unfortunately they lost with France UNDERSEVEDLY going through to the final - 'a win's a win' we'd say back home I guess!

After the game we headed back to Manukau on the free bus transfer back for an early night. Jon had kindly offered to drive us all home tomorrow night after the NZ v Aus game so we thought it best not to go out after the game.

The next day, Sunday, we woke to a relatively bright day and we hoped it would stay like that for the whole day. 

This day was an emotional one...because after 39 days of being together, we had to say goodbye to Evelyn! We were a little sad to be handing her back because she gave us so much freedom to go wherever we wanted at any time - this is something of a luxury whilst back-packing as we're usually bound by public transport. However, it was great to know that we'd be sleeping in actual beds from now on!

After saying goodbye we got in the 'Jon-Mobile', aka the Toyota Chaser, and headed for Auckland town centre.  We parked up, picked up the tickets for the evening's game and headed for the fan zone. Just as we left the Sky Tower complex we saw some of the welsh team standing around, they didn't look happy, we thought they were going home but later realised they had to play in the 3rd v 4th playoff on Friday....gutted

After wandering around the much-hyped "The Cloud" at the Fan Zone, which to be honest was a little disappointing, we headed for the Maori exhibition on The Viaduct. The exhibition was interesting and talked about the contribution of the Maoris to the All Blacks but to be honest (again) there was a lot of detail that even the most die-hard All Blacks fan might get a little bogged down in.

Afterwards we headed back up the wharf, stopping off at a few street entertainers, including Maoris doing their tribal dances, which was great to see which added to the atmosphere and build-up to arguably the biggest game of the tournament so far.

The day before Fran had sold us on having Korean for dinner, so we duly obliged and headed to one that had been recommended to us just off Queens Street. The Bibimbap was gooood!

After stuffing our faces we were just dying to sit down outside a bar and chill with a couple of beers (Cokes for Jon of course because he was driving), so we found a little Belgian pub on a nice side street. It was great because we got to soak up the atmosphere between the Aussies and the Kiwis as they all passed us by. The best bit was that it was in glorious sunshine!  Afterwards we headed for our limo, chauffeured by Jon, to take us to the game. 

After arriving at Eden Park we actually just felt like chilling out over a coffee and so found ourselves a quiet coffee shop and sat off to play cards - Kalukee in fact. After a few rounds of me being beaten by the newbies to the game (Jon and Laura) we headed for the ground.

The atmosphere before the game was tense, the national anthems were sung with gusto and seeing our first Haka live was simply phenomenal. The stadium goes silent and then all you here is the All Blacks laying down the challenge.....the Kiwis (and us) absolutely loved it and it was intense!!

The All Blacks played a fantastic game and throughout the match it was hilarious hearing the Kiwis shout "GIVE IT TO QUAID!" in reference to Quaid Cooper, a Kiwi now playing for Australia, who had an absolute shocker of a game! Fran was convinced he'd been paid off - he played that badly!!! 

And so it's a New Zealand vs (an unlikely) France final....who'd have thought? We'll be back next week to see the All Blacks absolutely smash Les Bleus no doubt.

Afterwards Jon did a stirling effort driving us back the 2.5 hours home to some awesome tunes....even though I was the DJ, I'm allowed to say that!!

Au revoir!
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