Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Make Safe Your Home!

The day starts with some excitement. There are two ways to Queenstown from Wanaka: SH6, the main road, which is longer, and another lesser-known highway, which goes a more direct, straight over the mountains route. We've cut it quite fine for our flight from Queenstown, and it's about an hours drive, and the petrol is fairly low so we need to fill up. Where is the petrol station? We're bound to hit one as we head out of town, says I. Hmmm. Never mind, there are a couple of towns along the way, they'll have petrol. Ermmm. No. We pass through Cadrona, seeing no fuel, and the fuel gauge is well through the empty box, and we're climbing up steep hills. We're in trouble. Dad is grumpy, and is now driving at about 50km/hr to conserve fuel. The gauge hits the bottom of empty.

Over the pass, and we're heading downhill. Perhaps we can roll down. Engine is still ticking over, but the worry is that even when we reach the flat, Queenstown is still a fair way up the valley. We creep along, and lo! Behold the gauge creeping up, two thirds of the way through the empty gauge! Hallelujiah! We meet SH6 and creep along. I have visions of abandoning the car at the side of the road and running the last few yards. It's not necessary.. the airport turnoff roundabout has a BP station! Thank the lord! I joke with Dad, saying that after all this, the flight will be cancelled. It is.

Apparently fog at Christchurch has screwed all of the flights. We've got a few hours leeway, but I'm glad I keep harassing the customer service personnel, as when they finally get flights going, I get rebooked on to the 12:55. Others are put on planes later in the afternoon, which would have meant missing some or all of the match!

In Christchurch, we take the shuttle bus again, this time we get a free (almost) tour of almost every other bloomin' hotel in Christchurch before he drops us at "the Jail". Yes, we're staying at the Jailhouse Hostel again, which Dad is far from pleased about, but as I'd arranged it, and he had no alternative, here we are. I took some photos this time, so you can see what we had to endure:

How the cells used to look

And today's offerings

From outside

The inside hall

So, into town, and we have some beers and pizza at Dad's choice, Dux De Lux, which sounds great in the guide book, and is a nice outdoor spot, but the beer and food wasn't up to much. So much for a Neapolitana pizza, have these people not been to Naples?!

Then we walk across town and stumble into the Twisted Hop, which supposedly brews real English-style ale. As in not fizzy and hopefully not served at sub-zero temperatures. And indeed it's more or less true, hurrah! The beers are good, and the front of the building has hop plants growing up it (the "Twisted Hop", remember), which looks nice.

Posters across town warn people..

The area it is in is the "Shoreditch" of Christchurch - obviously formerly rather industrial, and now home to lots of trendy bars and apartments. A venue for decent beer after the game secured, we head down to the stadium, which is about a 15 minute walk from where we are. Suspiciously the streets are very quiet. In fact, the whole town is quiet. Almost all the shops are closed already at 4pm on a Saturday afternoon. When do these people get out of bed?

At Jade Stadium we collect our tickets (37NZ$ each for almost the best seats) then wander round to a bar. The area is full of car showrooms and workshops, so this is not as easy a task as it sounds.

Don't worry, the Stadium's out of shot on the right

I'm wearing a red top for today's game, i.e. the Crusaders' colours, though I'm slightly worried about coming over as one of those cheapskates who doesn't want to fork out for the official kit. The bar we find, which is right outside the stadium, is moderately full, but not what you would expect an hour before a big league game. A rude woman doesn't let us sit down at empty tables that are reserved for people to eat up to half an hour later, so we leave and head into the grounds as they open the gates.

One person allowed per stand, Sir, no more

The stadium is fairly big, but we appear to be in an older benched stand. We start to wonder whether there will be anyone else watching the game, but slowly it does start to fill up. The taxi driver estimated there would be about 10-20,000 people here tonight.

Lights come on for pre-match "fun"

Pre-game music turned out to be a middle-aged gay duo dressed in fluorescent colours singing 80s classics, which sounds like it might be fun, but wasn't, and certainly didn't seem appropriate for a rugby crowd! I pick up a 4-pack of plastic bottles of beers, choice is Export Gold or Tui, neither of which are particularly nice. Next the "Crusaders" charge out, costumed types on horses, galloping around the pitch with swords. An enormous sword sits vertically in the middle of the pitch.


The Stormers from Cape Town are big lads, as is the usual South African style.. brawn without brain! The match starts. We have high expectations, having watched the Auckland Blues thrash the NSW Waratahs on TV the night before with an incredibly fluid display of rugby. This was also good, but the number of handling errors was just a joke, and really upset the otherwise fast play. The Crusaders' Dan Carter kicked some perfect chips forwards to create two tries as the incredibly fast backs latched on to the balls. This game had high expectations as 6 All Black players were back in the line-up for the Crusaders after being out for half the season for "reconditioning". They were expected to be a bit rusty, and perhaps were. Richie McCaw was also playing, but didn't seem to stand out especially.

The ball soars between the posts. Lovely.

Of course we looked forward to every try as a group of rather attractive cheerleaders were on a bench in front of us, and would leap up every time Christchurch scored. Flipside was injury time, when they would switch on some generic rock at incredible volumes to keep the crowd entertained. Why? The two teams also seemed completely incapable of keeping scrums up, almost every one collapsing.

Scrum "down" being taken literally

Final score: Canterbury Crusaders 36 Western Stormers 11

After, back to Twisted Hop for a couple more beverages, and sitting outside watching a stream of girls head into the Vespa Bar. What are we doing in the Twisted Hop? Drinking decent beer, that's what, how dare you ask me such a question!

Back to airport the next morning painfully earlier after a night "in Jail". We pick seats on the right this time to get a view of the New Zealand Alps as we fly back to Queenstown.

Could be Cook or Tasman. Or both even!

From Queenstown Airport, we drive straight along a pretty but uninteresting valley to Te Anau, the walking capital of the world, and the base for our next activity… an overnight trip on Doubtful Sound.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In answer to your email, Mr Crawley < outraged > Of course not! < / outraged >