New Zealand Tour 2008
Touring in South Island
Kia Ora all
After the Christchurch debacle we travelled down to Dunedin to watch some friendly cricket between England and an Otago exhibition XI.
Dunedin is a strange place. It was settled by the Scots about 200 years ago and they were originally going to call it Edinburgh, but then decided this would be too confusing and called it Dunedin instead, which means “Edinburgh” in Gaelic apparently.
Everybody seems to have a Scottish name, which explains the Hamish Marshall’s etc etc, and they also have McDonalds of course.
There is also a drinking culture.
The city has a dour image but in reality its a good lively place - 30,000 layabout students out of a population of 130,000 so plenty of late bars and it gets lively after 2am.
We arrived in Dunedin late at 4pm on the first day of the practice game and were allowed to park the car, & let into the ground, for free, which wasn’t very Scottish at all.
Once in we saw Owais Shah just miss out on a century (our nearly man) but England ended up with a respectable 350 ish at the end of day one. Strauss made hardly any runs as usual.
Michael Vaughan and Peter Moores were sat on the grass bank watching the proceedings from deck chairs and the whole thing was very relaxed indeed, couldn’t have been more than 100 spectators there in total.
We were only able to obtain one night’s accommodation in Dunedin so packed up the following morning and drove down to the cricket with our luggage. The England backroom staff were very friendly and accommodating and we had a decent chat with both Phil Neal and Mark Garoway.
The antics of Jesse Ryder came as no surprise to the people in the know it seems - he was described as a "moron". What a pity he won’t be gracing Old Trafford.
We left the cricket in the afternoon to travel down the Taeri Gorge by steam train from Dunedin station, having managed to get on the trip at the last minute due to a cancellation.
Upon going to our numbered seats in the carriage, we found these occupied by three Australian OAP's. When challenged one of them replied " It doesn’t matter mate, were all in a group". Our response - "It matters to us they are our seats --now hoppit".
These Aussies then spent the whole afternoon grumbling because we had kicked them out of our seats. They were part of a large Ozscum travel group that collectively looked like that box of wrinkled dates your Mum used to buy every Christmas (too much time in the sun without factor 50).
They occupied virtually the rest of our carriage and you would not believe the degree of whinging and moaning they got up to collectively during that long hot afternoon.
Amazingly Simon met old Mr Ice-cream man from Wormesley ground on this train. Mr Ice-cream man also services Uxbridge ground and quite a lot of the Middlesex games I gather, so no doubt Herbie and Mike you have probably had a 99 off him at some stage in the past.
After leaving Dunedin we headed for the West coast and the so-called "tourist trail" to Milford Sound and up the coast.
Deciding on a midway stop we booked a motel in the sleepy little town of Lumsden for two nights as this appeared convenient to visit Milford for the day, return, and carry on up the coast.
We arrived in Lumsden at about 9pm - town was closed. Our motel was hard to find even in a one street town as the neon sign wasn’t working properly although it was flickering.
When we did find the motel we discovered it was made entirely of plywood, chipboard, hardboard and cardboard (the three little pigs would never have stayed there) and festooned with flies and other buzzing biting creatures.
The day trip to Milford was sound. Apart from the sandflies, which are like small pirhana fish with wings. Insect repellent is a complete waste of time and they just bite through it like the raspberry on Mr Ice-cream mans cones.
When we got back from Milford we went for a drink in one of the two town bars and later Simon’s mate who lives in NZ phoned up and informed him that last week, somebody was killed in a fight in the other bar across the main road. We decided not to have a pub crawl in Lumsden.
One place to highlight is Queentown - must be one of the most beautiful places we have ever driven into with the sun shining on it -- but apart from this it is the centre for "extreme" activities.
George and myself embarked on an "extreme" drinking bout in the Poge Mahone Irish bar, whilst Simon booked a bungy jump at the famous AJ Hackett site where it all started - I foolishly agreed to get up early to photo the event at 9am the morning after the white water Guinness drinking.
Simon was the second jump of the day off the bridge and they hadn’t quite fixed the rope at the correct length -- so he didn’t hit the water below.
Becoming addicted to the activity he then booked another jump at 10.15 and this time, gave instructions to be pushed off backwards with more slack, so he could touch the river.
I was almost ready with the camera and as he shuffled towards the edge of the plank with his feet tied together he was excitedly shouting out more directions than Peter Jackson. "Make sure you get me leaning back Al".
Unfortunately while I was still trying to focus the camera he suffered a bout of premature gravitation and fell off the edge earlier than he should, hitting the water like an blue whale and going under full length, all except the soles of his trainers, which stayed dry.
It looked a bit like the re-entry of the Flying Sub from "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea", for the over 40's. Sorry 50's now.
"I hope you got that Al, we don’t want to have to go through all that again" was the verdict from the AJ Hackett staff on the bridge!!
Full marks to Simon for bottle and all the sandfly bites we both got as a result of the morning’s japes.
Finally no report would be complete without a bit of name dropping and in a small ex-gold mining town near Queenstown called Arrowtown we saw (or at least George & Simon did and George should know) none other than Sir Geoffrey B.
"Shall I ask him for a picture" I said naively. Before I could focus the camera he had stomped angrily off, along with his collection of Aldi & Morrisons carrier bags.
Miserable Yorkshire tyke.
Further report to follow at Hamilton, today we have been at Fox Glacier on the West coast - yes this is where the name of the mints come from, but its been anything but mint, as the sky has dropped about three feet of rain on us in two days.