My first venture into Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, where we decided to spontaneously go and watch a game of Rugby. Just me and thirty of my mates – as you do.

Friday 28/03/08

I sat up at 10am on the dot, in a panic about getting some breakfast and checking out. Don’t think I could eat anything now anyway – hangover! It’s a lengthy drive today onto Wellington, so I have broken out the PSP, hoping the battery holds out. I got chatting to Koru for part of the drive as well, he seemed to appreciate the fact that I was here for The Land, and that I was here for something a bit more than “the rest of the guys.” Was that a bit of job or traveller resentment on his behalf that I detected? Onto Wellington now, hurrah!


(Writing on 29th)

I’ve been away for two weeks now in total, but it feels a lot longer. The drive to Wellington was a lengthy one, but watching Transformers on the PSP saw me through most of the journey. I almost actually got some sleep on the coach too.

By the time we got there, there wasn’t much time to squeeze any exploration of the City in. We had all decided to watch a rugby game, so check-in was swift and we were out almost straight away to the match.

The Hurricanes were the local team, taking on The Crusaders. The match was exciting at first, but it quickly became very dull to me! The Cheer-Leaders, Mexican-waves and mascots were all far more entertaining than the actual game itself.

A quick taxi back, and everyone decided to head out drinking. I was still feeling tired and groggy from the previous night, and I’d had no food. So, only two pints and some super greasy southern fried chicken later, I bumped into Laurence and Neil (mad Welsh guy) who “kidnapped” me and took me into an Irish bar, Kitty O’Sheas. Neil knew the barmaid, and so we got a cheap Jaeger-bomb and a free shot of tequila. Then we tried to get into a bar called Shooters, but between my hiking trainers and Neil’s ripped jeans, we were not allowed entry and so we ended up in Coyote’s bar next door, with proper R&B music. Everyone also got absolutely hammered. This is crucial to remember, because I haven’t yet mentioned that we had to be up at 6:45, to leave the hostel at 7:15, to get the ferry terminal for 8:30am. I got four relatively sober hours of sleep. Everyone else got two or less.

(Continued, Sat 29th)

So, I am currently on the boat going across the Cook straight to the South Island. Most of the gang made it onto the boat. If I split from this little band that we have, I’ll probably have to private-room my way up back to Auckland; dorms are fine it seems, if you are part of the party.

This boat is making me sleepy. Forgetting what I’m writing. Laurence fell out of his bed and hurt his shoulder. Just wanted to make a note of that.

So, I didn’t get to see Wellington at all really, and so I’ll have to stop an extra day there on the way back up. I want to visit the museum and get better photographs of the Regency Cinema. I think it is called The Regency, it could be The Empire? Wellington did look cool and busy, and it also had a Nandos…

May try and get some kip on this boat. Those guys are on hair of the dog, mad bastards! Oh, and Laurence fell out of bed and hurt his shoulder. Too funny.

SOUNDTRACK “Yellow” by Coldplay
Because The Hurricanes (who got battered) use it as their theme song.


My favourite part of this diary entry is right at the very end, where I am obviously so tired, knackered or possibly still tipsy, that I mention Laurence hurting his shoulder twice on more or less the same page. I did not read this diary back in full for a good few years after the trip, and this part had me laughing out loud at how drowsy I was. Drunk writing is brill!

Again, another busy day and a quite brilliant night out. The Rugby game is summed up pretty much above. The only bits to add are my utter surprise in how we all managed to get tickets. I am by no means a Football Fan, but even I know that the modern game in the UK has been stitched up for decades and designed to rinse fans of money as much as possible. So far, so Business. Yet I had echoes of my Dad saying football did not always use to be this way, once upon a time you could just ruck up and buy a ticket.

There is absolutely no way on Earth that a bus load of drunk backpackers could roll up to the English capital, decide to spontaneously watch a London Derby of Arsenal vs Tottenham, turn up to the ground and get seats for 30 of us in one go, all for about twenty quid each. Yet, to watch this rugby game, on a whim, was so simple, I couldn’t believe we managed it. But this is only in comparison to how crap live football is for everyone back home.

Yes, New Zealand is a ‘smaller’ country and all that, but this was their National Sport! Two teams from their capital, and we still all got seats on a punt and with change to spare. So even though the rules of the game itself went over most of our heads (there was a very enthusiastic local sat behind us, who whether we asked him to or not, explained everything as it happened in real-time) the memory of us all getting into this game at all is itself an achievement. We mostly relied on the Manchester lads, who played the game, to explain what was going on.

The only hiccup at the game was in getting served beer. Sensible ol’ me was the only one with his passport on him at all times, and the stadium insisted on ID for everyone who was buying alcohol – I fetched a lot of beer back and forth to the stands…

Our hostel was on the main road in the City that featured The Embassy Cinema (not Regency or Empire – where did I get those names from?) famous for many things including the Lord of The Rings Premieres. There is a famous sculpture nearby which is one part Movie Camera, one part Spider-Tripod. I got a few pictures, but knew that I would have to spend more time in Wellington on the return circuit. It was a big city, felt much nicer than Auckland (I was acclimatised to traveling now after all) but the whistle stop Rugby match and night out left no time for exploring the city itself.

The night out again speaks for itself, I do remember Neil, Mark and I having our own mini adventure pub-crawl before rendezvousing with the rest of the gang. Still totally surprised (and grateful) that most bars did not care a fudge about me wearing my hiking boots! Still a lot of Cowboys in New Zealand after all, and so the boots get some respect!