The Irish were sky high

Trip Start Nov 01, 2010
Trip End Nov 01, 2011

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Where I stayed
Alexandra Park

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Auckland was a sea of Green 16.9.11

Whilst in the campervan on Wi-Fi, we decided to go on the hunt for some Ireland Rugby tickets for their game 2 days later in Auckland, our next destination. We'd planned to be in Auckland for a couple of days around the fixture to soak up the atmosphere preferably of a nearby Irish pub. However as our trip went on, rugby fever had definitely well and truly kicked in and we were eyeing up actually going to the game but unsure over ticket availability. I’d checked before leaving Sydney and the only tickets left were selling out at AUD$350 Category A. For me, I couldn’t reason that price being worthwhile. We went to our old favourite, Gumtree NZ. And sure enough we spotted a pair of tickets sat next to each other for the game @ $140 each. We presumed that the seats were probably Category D sat somewhere up in the clouds, but it didn’t matter, we now had tunnel vision. We rang the number using Skype, and the lad selling the pair was from Derry. We informed him that we were interested and would be due in Auckland the next day at lunchtime. He said, well if they are still available, they are yours. I was unsure if they’d still be available, and took a leap of faith and sent him the payment using PayPal after checking his EBay seller criteria feedback. He seemed above board, or was a being a desperate sucker? It’s done now.

Shipped out of the campsite early’ish for Auckland. It was a 3 hour drive on the M1, and as we approached we began to realize how massive the city was and by far and away the biggest city in NZ. We booked our campsite a month previous as we new the city would be bunged with Irish and Aussies, and we managed to get an unpowered temporary campsite situated just outside the city, Alexandra Park, Greenlane (A horse trotting track car-park). Instead of checking in first we wanted to get the tickets to put our minds at ease, and decided to head for our meeting point, The Langham hotel in the city. I don’t know how Caoimhe managed to spot this place, but she seen it from the motorway, lol – good job, had no clue where to start looking. We rang him, and sure enough he showed up with the goods (looked so dodge outside the 5 star hotel, the looks we got from the porters, who were taking Wally’s Reg down) The lad was sound and said he had plenty of more, seemed genuine as did the pricy tickets - $290 each, bargain!

Parked up and wandered around Auckland, there were Irish everywhere and the pubs were all rammed in anticipation of the big game which we were even more excited about. I Googled the seat plan and we were on the midfield line, behind the subs right beside the tunnel, the seller actually said they should really be Category A tickets, sweet. Father Teds pub was packed and we walked on up further towards Sky City, Auckland’s version of Sydney tower, 200 meters high, which looked like a very tall watch tower. As we walked up the street I could hear someone shouting my name, I looked up and sure enough it was an Irish lad I played football with in Sydney, Benny. Had a quick drink with him in the Fiddler then him and his brothers free-falled off Sky City, mad bastids!

Then it was off to the campsite, carefully navigated by my co-pilot, we made our way there. When I say campsite, it was a giant car-park haha – our facilities, lovely portaloos,  end of. Phones were dead, laptops were dead, it was party time. The campsite was jam packed with campervans, 95% of which had tri-colors up on their windows. The party really was starting in the eve of the game. It was a great atmosphere. We were advised by the security that there was horse trotting going on at the stadium beside us, big pub and Kiwi match was on against Japan on the big screens. We darted over, punted a bit on the trotters, lost a bit lol, got some drink sand enjoyed the craic, watching the kiwis walk all over the Japs.

We arrived back about mid-night, ready for the cot. About an hour later we looked out and there were 20 man actual scrums taking place. The site was mental lol – We awoke the next morning, and I’d been dying to see the new movie 'The Guard’ with Brendan Gleeson. It was on at 11am right beside the campsite and it would make for a nice warm entertaining 2 hours out of the wet cold campervans, lashing it was. Movie was a cracker, and we enjoyed chillaxing the big recliners.

Afterwards it was time for the pre-match warm up. Got our stuff together, rugby tops on, and into town to watch the antics. The city was heaving with Irish and the craic was not wide. People were spilling over out of queues 4 deep just to get into the Irish pubs about 3pm. We headed back up to our old favourite, The Fiddler, and got a few drinks and a table upstairs. It was ALL IRISH. Caoimhe had managed to buy herself some face paint the day before and started to paint our faces with tri-colours and shamrocks. Other noticed and got talking to Caoimhe in the toilets and within seconds there was literally a queue, Caoimhe was the new Irish make up artist. She should have charged $5 a pop, we would have been staying in the Langham that night lol. Her concentration and accuracy was perfect, the customers loved it haha About an hour later, the entire pub had their face painted. Meantime I was concentrating on the lovely Guinness. Then it was time to grab 1 of the free shuttle buses out to the game. The crowds and atmosphere was like nothing I’d seen before. You would have thought you were in Dublin.

The Game 17.9.11

The buses were in full song and then we arrived at Eden Park for the big game. It felt like S.t Paddy’s day or an All-Ireland final or something. Maori dancers everywhere, kiwis were even dressed in green. We found our seats – Fck me, the view we had was incredible, I have to admit, we were very jammy. We knew immediately that it was a star studded area, with Sonia O’Sullivan sitting behind us haha. The anthems started, as me Caoimhe knew the lyrics too well and it was on. The next hour and half were some of the most nervous and exciting moments I can rememeber. The Aussies looked to take about 50% of the attendance but once the songs started, Aussies were drowned out, there was only 1 team to be heard, Ireland. Sea of green and Irish chants. The last 10 minutes were nail biting, but they got the job done, we witnessed history being made, Ireland beating Australia for the 1st time in a World Cup. I think ever country outside of Australia cheered on Ireland. The kiwis were delighted and the Irish were just on cloud 9. God help Auckland tonight! At the very end it looked like Ireland had got a try, I was jumping about like a maniac high fiving surrounding kiwis, and then the camera spotted me. I prayed to god it didn’t get televised around the world, because the try was disallowed haha – I looked special.

We made our way back into the city. Whilst on a shuttle bus, 1 of the lads took all of his clothes off and hung from the bars on the roof of the bus like a monkey, completely starkers. Him and a Haughey would get on like a house on fire.

Got back into Auckland, and it was total party scene, there were flash dances at junctions of green….pubs were crammed, myself and Caoimhe were both deaf and had no voice left. I have never heard noise like it in a stadium. People were dressed as leprechauns, potato bags and green white and gold gimp suits. We seen a nearby Hotel, the plaza, dodged into the bar to get our nerves back on track. The place was packed with Aussies drowning their sorrows then in walk a delighted Caoimhe and Brian in head to toe in green, we got  a few looks and spotted a few other random Irish. We got a drank and discussed the game, then I look out of the corner of my eye and seen the Australian team walking in, sure we were only bloody in the hotel the Australian team were camped in surrounded by their family members. Dear Jesus, well this is awkward – ‘Caoimhe you wanna go ask if they want a tri-colours painted on their face??’ Haha. 

We dodged back to the campervan park leaving Auckland/Iraq to party on, we were clean Bo Jangled. Collapsed into bed, awoke about 6am with people coming home, reforming their scrums etc. lol. Next day, it was post match analysis amongst the campsite and locals, and they were calling it the game of the world cup so far. We were very glad we got to see it, that’s all I can say. Best few days of our trip since we left home easily. The next day the press went through the Wallabies for a short cut whilst Ireland had basically just won the World Cup, even the Ireland team who came back out onto the pitch after the game were shocked at the support.

Some of the characters we met will live long in our memories.

We pulled out of Auckland the next morning, in search of a powered, dry, clean non alcohol campsite. Both the van and it’s passengers need some down time. We went north, to the Bay of Islands. It was a 3 hour drive, booked into a TOP10, knowing the next morning at 8am, we were jumping out of  a plane at 16,000 feet :S

We done about 9 washes of clothes, charged up everything including ourselves and past out. Oh, before passing out, an exhausted Brian decided to drive to the dump station to empty Wally and yes I did it. I finally managed to do what I feared I would do,

The Skydive in KeriKeri, Bay of Islands, North Island, NZ 19.9.11

The alarm sounded, weather was bright, we were well rested, but didn’t have any nerves about the dive really, as we psyched ourselves up the last time but it was too windy to jump. Made our way down to the Bay of Islands airport, and into Sky Dive Zone hanger, we were the first people there. Great, this feels like a professional setup, lol. Staff arrived, we suited up, went for the DVD/Photos package, and next minute we know, I’m strapped to some English lad, Caoimhe strapped onto his mate, and the 4 of us were squeezed into the back of a plane I can only describe as being put together by Neil Buchanan in Art Attack that morning. It was scary, scary stuff. The sun was blitzing and we rose higher and higher, navigated well by our 16 year old looking pilot FFS. I said a prayer, but acted all cool to Caoimhe, laughing and giggling. My instructor was pointing out the names of the islands off the coast – as if I give a sh1t, put a sock in it, I’m about to jump out of a plane. The he said it "think about, if you die now the last person you will hug is an Englishman’ – great pal! 

We were 1 minute away, got to our positions, Caoimhe was to go first, door opened, she put her legs out, 3,2,1 GO. Not wise, Caoimhe was gone. ‘Well if she can do it so can I’, I thought lol. A far more terrifying moment than the bungee to be honest. 3,2,1 GO. And we are off! Wee free-fell for 1 minute, the bungee was about 12 seconds. It was not wise.

It was freezing and the strangest experience of our lives [especially falling through the clouds], it was so silent, then the shoot went up, thank Christ. He let me navigate my way down using the handles, as I have done this many times before ???????? 

Seen Caoimhe landed safely, phew, then we landed on our ar$es. Jesus that was AWESOME. Correct usage of the word. Haha

Caoimhe was giggling away, and we were very relieved it was over. Poor Caoimhe’s face was totally wind burnt (I didn’t even know wind burn was  a real thing). In fairness the instructors were quality and very re-assuring even though the GCSE student pilot had me freaked out in Buchannan’s plane. Mission accomplished, we finally managed to do our dive. 

All NZ trips over 18 days complete. We headed for our last night in NZ, stopping at TOP10 Orewu Beach, an hour’s drive from Auckland airport, parked up right by the sea front. A nice way to end our trip, were we basically had driven the shit out of NZ touching on 5,000kms. 

** Some tunes never off Classic Hits FM on the roadtrip
GAGA- You and I
Adam Levine - Moves like Jagger
James Blunt - Stay the Night
The next morning, we returned Wally (it was emotional) to Backpackers campervan hire at the airport. Boarded our 3 hour delayed flight to ROASTING Nadi, Fiji for 2 weeks in the Sun, relaxing, after 3 weeks of weeks of wandering around every corner of New Zealand. It was our very own ‘Lord of the Rings’ tour.

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