Richard checks out New Zealand for the March 2018 Tour
Granted. It is a long way to New Zealand and you don’t go much further before you start coming back. However, if there is a country worth the journey then it is this beautiful collection of Pacific islands with its pleasant climate and friendly inhabitants.
As it is a long way I would recommend breaking the journey. Head East and your options are numerous, Hong Kong, Dubai or Singapore all offer routes in to New Zealand and are great places to explore while getting some rest before heading onwards. On my trip I opted to stop briefly in Singapore, a modern, bustling city-state with very affordable high standard hotels, it is also a shopaholics paradise with every option from local markets to glitzy malls packed with world famous designer brand shops. Head West and you can stopover in Los Angles and hang out with the crazy and cool of Venice Beach, or take a drive along the magnificent Pacific Coast Highway.
From Singapore I flew straight in to Auckland, the ‘City of Sails’. In my opinion Auckland ranks as one of the great Pacific coast cities along with Sydney, San Francisco and Vancouver. It has a well-developed waterfront scene full of trendy bars and world-class restaurants. A short distance from the centre is the impressive Eden Park stadium where we expect one of the Test matches to be played. The rumour is it will be a day-night Test match, being the first day-night Test match between England and New Zealand. If you want an idea of the type of atmosphere you can expect here, then catch the All-Blacks v The British Lions who will be playing there in June 2017.
On to South Island and the city of Christchurch, the proposed venue for the 2nd Test match. Evidence of the disastrous earthquakes of 2010-11 are still prevalent in the centre of the city despite this the city has retained its intrinsic ‘English’ type charm with its green parks and historic buildings that did survive. It is an easy city to negotiate with most places of interest being within walking distance of the centre, including the Hagley Oval. In complete contrast to Eden Park the Hagley Oval nestles in leafy Hagley Park. A quintessential English style cricket ground that will no doubt delight those who like their cricket served up in a more ‘traditional’ setting.
If New Zealand is not already on your list of ‘must-see’ places to visit then it really should be. Taking cricket to one side for a moment, the diversity of natural sights of these relatively small islands has to offer will amaze you. From the pristine endless beaches and rolling green volcanic hills of the North Island to the rugged Southern Alps and fjord-like scenery of Milford Sound of South Island. If it all sounds a bit fantastic then just remember it was New Zealand that provided the back drop to the fantasy films of Lord of the Rings. For those of you considering the trip you can be sure there will be a warm welcome for you in Middle Earth.
Watch this space for full tour packages in June 2017.
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