RWC Final Weekend in Auckland then Waiheke Island!

Trip Start Apr 12, 2011
Trip End Apr 01, 2012

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Flag of New Zealand  , Auckland,
Friday, October 21, 2011

And back to Base Hostel – where we got upgraded – we got a room with a window. That's the extent of upgrades in hostel terms.  Friday was the build up to the Wales-Australia Bronze Final and we immediately notice the difference in Auckland – the waterfront is swarming with people, it’s warm and there is excitement in the air, it feels like a whole different city.  We spend the build up in an Irish bar on the waterfront which is a sea of red with maybe two Australian fans.  There is a band playing mostly Welsh songs and they let Welsh supporters up to sing as well – the atmosphere is brilliant.  The Welsh have definitely made the effort in the fancy dress with lots of daffodils and other stereotypes wandering around.  We make the walk out to the stadium, where we’re entertained with dancers and the general banter and climb the stairs to our budget seats.  Unfortunately the game didn’t quite live up to expectations and at times the most interesting thing going on in the stadium was the Mexican wave.  Afterwards we head out to Mount Eden with Steve and his friends to their local pub which is normally a good place for a quiet drink.  Tonight it is filled with slightly inebriated Welsh fans singing and dancing – a fun night out. 

Saturday was a day off the rugby (must have been organised this way to maximise the time and money that the tourists spend in Auckland.  It’s 11am and people are already on what I hope is their first pint of the day.  We tried to be a little more cultural, hit the farmers market for some food and then got the ferry to Rangitoto Island.  Rangitoto Island was formed by a volcanic eruption and gradually became an island.  Therefore it looks a bit strange when you arrive and there are trees and plantlife growing amongst the black lava rocks.  We took an hours hike to the crater, had lunch and then went to explore the lava caves.  These turned out to be the highlight – not sure why as all we did is walk through the dark caves and try to find a way out but this amused us immensely – maybe because it’s rare to be allowed to clamber about dark caves due to health and safety rules – that doesn’t bother New Zealand so much.  Then back down to the hill to get the ferry back to Auckland, where we congratulated ourselves with a drink at a Macs bar that we had done something productive today.  We had dinner at an asian BBQ place (possibly Korean) which was very tasty and involved massive portions.  So much so that for the rest of the evening we where only fit to wander about to try to work off dinner – and so we did what everyone else appeared to be doing , walk along the marina and out to Wynark Quay to look at all the fancy boats that were docked.  There were alot – at first I thought there must be someone famous on some of the yachts due to the crowds but I think, being New Zealand, most people just appreciate a nice boat.

Sunday – it’s finally here, FINAL DAY!  We leave the hostel to meet a sea of black – everyone is wearing at least a black top apart from the few French supporters, most of which are dressed in some sort of ridiculous fancy dress.  We mill around with the other supporters and then get a bit concerned when we see the queue to the fanzone, it’s massive.  Apparently the main fan zone was full by 3pm, the game wasn’t until 9pm.  We had already opted out of this idea as we didn’t fancy drinking Heineken for 8 hours and so headed to the fish market.  A bit of a random choice by one of Steve’s mates but turned out to be perfect.  Enough screens, atmosphere, wine, beer and food – we happily passed the next five hours until the game started – it was necessary to be there that early to secure our spot in front of the screens.  Suddenly it’s 8pm we look around and the place is rammed and every time the team bus appears on screen driving around Auckland, the crowd roars – we were beginning to think the bus driver may be lost but hopefully the tape was on loop as the commentators were too nervous for words.  Well, what can I say, was it amazing to be in New Zealand for New Zealand finally winning the world cup, definitely.  Was it a an amazing game? Not so much and the Kiwis knew that but didn’t care, one point was enough to break the curse.  The city exploded and everyone spilled out on the streets – not sure if anyone had any clue what to do or where to go but the atmosphere was buzzing.  After realising that we wouldn’t be getting into any bars that night without waiting an hour or two, we settled for soaking up the atmosphere and then heading back to the hostel  - leave the true celebrating to New Zealand.

Monday – the morning after.  We packed our bags and went to Waiheke Island, not realising there would be a victory parade in Auckland so we did miss that but not sure it we would have had the patience to stand for hours for a second day in the row to wait for the All Blacks.  Waiheke was a welcome change – I think they probably did see the rugby but there wasn’t much mention of it.  It’s a small island 35 minutes from Auckland and the main attractions are beaches and vineyards.  Therefore it is pretty popular with people that have money and we enjoyed eyeing the beach real estate from afar.  We stayed at a very cute little lodge, called Fossil Bay Lodge just outside of the main village Oneroa.  It was all so relaxed and peaceful, a nice change from Auckland (apart from the first morning when we were awoken by some very disturbed ducks and then screaming children – the hostel doubled as a Steiner kindergarten – I can understand the concept if the aim is to let the kids tire themselves out by screaming at kindergarten and go home exhausted!)

Our first stop on the island was, of course, the vineyards.  We walked out to Mudbrick Vineyard which is well known for the views from the vineyard (as well as the wine itself).  The vineyard sits on a hill which overlooks the sea, and you can even see back to Auckland which somehow makes the view even more relaxing.  The second vineyard was Cable Bay, I’ll name these ones so you can look for them in the supermarket at home, again had amazing views and we liked the wine even more and so bought a couple bottles.  This may be due to the fact that it was the second vineyard of the day or that there were 8 tastings or simply the wine was more to our taste – it’s very hard to tell.  After that, we bought some bread, cheese and other snacks and headed back to the lodge to try out our wines.

Second day, we were slightly more productive and did a coastal walk around from our hostel to the ferry terminal – the walk was beautiful and involved minimal scrambling up hills, but was made more interesting by the fact that Jonny’s flip flop broke quite early on and so he had to continue shoeless (true New Zealand style).  The main sights of the walk were the beautiful beaches and the beautiful beach houses – both captured our attention, if only we had a few million pounds spare for a holiday home! After our walk, we got lunch in the village and then Steve left us, at which point our stay became far more lazy and we spent the remaining days exploring the island walks and managed to fit a couple more vineyards in as well.  We did have a slightly surprising encounter with a nudist beach during one of walks – why you would route a public walkway through the nudist beach I do not know but we just kept our heads down and kept walking – those folks certainly weren’t shy!   
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