Victory Parade

I left Auckland on MONDAY and spent 11 hours on a bus to Wellington. This time we had a boring driver, so no fun at all. But I knew the route and was ready to take some better photos of Lake Taupo

and Mt Ruapehu

Seems like the best weather is when I sit on a bus… In Wellington I experienced the wind the city is famous for. When I left my bag at the hostel (this time I stayed at Downtown Backpackers, opposite the Railway Station; a good one, recommend), I went for a walk and to buy something for breakfast. The day after the win, the streets of the capital were almost empty. It was a public holiday, a Labour Day and not many bars were open. Probably people were hiding from the wind in their homes. There were moments when I just couldn’t walk and was being pushed back. When I was waiting for the green light on traffic lights, I had to hold a sign and when I finally got the green, I couldn’t walk. The cars were waiting and I was standing too, because the wind was pushing me back and I couldn’t cross the street. I gave up fighting and crossed it when I was ready. I had to get to the hostel, right?! And I did get there, but very tired.

The next day, the wind was less stronger. I stayed at the hostel till about 2 or 3 p.m. to plan my trip around the South Island and it took me some time. Thanks to H., who gave me her top 10 must-sees, I had some marking points to plan around.

In the afternoon, I went to the library, but I couldn’t get the connection with the Internet, probably because of too many people using it or because of the wind, so I went to Midnight Espresso for a coffee. Sitting there I had this feeling of having a holiday from holiday and yet not having to work. I liked that.

In the evening I was more lucky with the connection.

And then the Parade day came! First I thought of waiting for the All Blacks at Civic Square, but the parade was to finish at Parliament Square and thought it would be more interesting to be right there. And it was closer to my hostel.

I went to the square at about 11:30 a.m. and there were already a couple hundreds of people, school kids waiting on the square. By the time the team arrived at about 1:30 p.m., the square got full and I was lucky to be in like the third front row. I looked through John Key‘s facebook albums and found myself in a couple of group photos, like this:

No one was sure when the All Blacks would start their parade, because different sources gave different times. They could start at 12:15 or 1 p.m. The weather forecast wasn’t great at all and while we were waiting in the rain outside, Mr Key was on the top floor of the Beehive.

Decorated windows of Parliament

Some people had a top view, too.

We knew that the team was coming soon, when more politicians left the building and even the Prime Minister came out to welcome the crowd. My not so fortunate photo of the PM. He wasn’t yawning here, but was saying that he hoped she wasn’t cold. (It wasn’t very cold, but just really wet)

and the other side of the shot. Find Sylwia!

And then they finally arrived. Some of them came to us to sign stuff, others were stopped by the crowd standing closer to the road. Some better or not so good photos of:

Sam Whitelock

Andrew Hore

Israel Dagg

John Afoa

Hosea Gear

Jerome Kaino

Stephen Donald!

Kieran Read

and Keven Mealamu

Then the whole team with their coaches was welcomed by the PM and others, there were short speeches etc.

(tell me how cute Piri with his kid is here… and Richie with the Cup…)

And then out of nothing the person who was leading that event suggested the All Blacks to do the haka, the crowd started to cheer and to our surprise they took their jackets off and did Ka Mate on the steps of Parliament! Some good videos of that dance ended up on YouTube: 1, 2 and 3.

The All Blacks doing the haka in Wellington was a perfect closure for my Rugby World Cup adventure. I saw them at the welcome ceremony in Auckland at the beginning of September and now I saw them wet and victorious with the Webb Ellis Cup in Wellington. 😀

The RWC Finals Weekend

FRIDAY to SUNDAY, 21th – 23rd October

Funny thing, when you travel a lot you start meeting the same bus drivers. The one who took me from Tauranga to Auckland was the same one who took me from Matamata to Hamilton a couple weeks earlier. What was even more surprising, he remembered me!

I was in Auckland after 12 p.m. and P., my friend from Australia, who was coming to see the Bronze Final with me that evening, was landing at 2:40 p.m. I had asked him to catch Airbuss Express from the airport to the city centre, as I wasn’t sure if I made it to welcome him there and mostly I didn’t want to spend about $30 on going just back and forth. I left my bag in a locker at the bus station and spend my extra time before P.’s arrival in the Auckland Library updating my blog.

When P. finally got through the traffic after 4 p.m., we only had time to pick up my bag and catch a bus to Te Atatu peninsula. We were staying again at J.&Ch.’s with two sons and a cat, Mortimer.

Does it happen to you often that you’re so focused on your plan that you miss other more convenient opportunities? When we got off the bus in Te Atatu, the bus driver checked out when the next bus was and if we had enough time to go back to see the match, and it was in two hours and there was a risk we may be late. He even asked how long we would need to leave the bag, because he could wait for us and take us back to the city, but I wanted to have time to say ‘hello’ to J. and thought it would be rude to just pop in, leave the bag and run off. So I let the driver go and then we found out that J. wouldn’t mind us going straight to catch the bus after leaving the bag. But it was too late.

J. showed us a poster made by one of her boys 🙂

And we were late for the match, of course, about 15 minutes. We missed Australia’s first try, and I was happy not to see it, because I hate looking at P.’s smug face. Again, because of missed penalty kicks, Wales lost and the Wallabies got away with the third place in the World Cup.

I also felt sorry for Quade Cooper. He looked like he tripped over his own foot, but in fact he got a knee injury. When he came back for his medal, his leg was wrapped and taped.

I realized I hadn’t had a photo of me in Eden Park!

I didn’t have many plans for SATURDAY, except for seeing The Black Seeds in Fanzone in the evening. And again awesome H., my friend from Auckland, came with a helping hand and her car. I didn’t mind seeing the same places I had seen before as long as P. had a good day, because it was his first visit to New Zealand and a very short one. He was leaving the next day.

First, we had lunch on Ponsonby Road, next we went to Mt Eden, One Tree Hill and then hot chocolate at Mission Bay. On Friday the weather was beautiful, but on Saturday it got cloudy and windy again. I didn’t feel well, my muscles ached, I had sore eyes and I couldn’t eat much. I was afraid to get sick. I didn’t want to waste my time lying in bed here, while the South Island was waiting. I took some painkillers in the evening and luckily, I was feeling better the next day. Interesting enough, I was feeling great already when I was listening to The Black Seeds that evening! But we had to wait for them quite a while, because they weren’t the only act performing then. Others weren’t bad at all. The first band was Rubberband, then 1814.

The third band was Katchafire. The crowd went mad when they started playing Get Away and from that on, it was a general sing-a-long.

There were two huge boats standing in the wharf and Katchafire was very popular among the kitchen crew

The Black Seeds started playing before 11 p.m. Some people were already pretty drunk, others were leaving to catch their last buses home. My bus was at 11:30, but H. said she’d drive us home. ( :-* ). So there were less people in the audience than for Katchafire. How the band played you can hear it yourselves, a couple new songs you can find there and this is what they played as an encore:

SUNDAY

In the afternoon, I went to the city centre to soak up the atmosphere before the grand final. Quay Street was closed, Queen Street was still open when I got off the bus, but soon after that it was closed, because of too many people already walking on the road.

The Fanzone in Queen’s Wharf had already been full since 2 p.m. and security wasn’t letting anyone in.

Nevertheless, some people were still queuing, maybe they were Gin Wigmore‘s fans, because she was giving a free concert in the evening.

Cook’s Wharf was open and the security was sending people there.

Mostly I saw All Blacks supporters.

French fans decided to stay together

However everyone was very friendly

Some people couldn’t afford to buy All Blacks jerseys.

or maybe they just wanted to be like Dan Carter

I found Mr Vintage shop. It’s on the way to Eden Park and it was busy when I was going back home.

I had a really bad bus connection to Te Atatu, because it was Sunday and I wouldn’t have had one, if I wanted to watch the game somewhere in the city, so I decided to get back home and watch the Final with J., Ch. and their friends.

The atmosphere was tense during the game and I didn’t want to think what would have happened, if the All Blacks lost. New Zealand needed that win to lift up its spirit after a though year of disasters like Pike River mine, Christchurch earthquakes and now Rena oil spill. And the All Blacks brought some light and something New Zealand is so proud of. They’re their gladiators, role models, heroes. I really like Stephen Donald, an unlikely hero. It was his first World Cup match. When he went on to that field, Ch. said that he didn’t think it could get any worse, but it did. I replied, what was the difference between Piri and him missing the goals (I still love ya, Piri). None, so what was the problem? And then Steve just simply kicked those 3 points that gave New Zealand the advantage. Perfect. What a guy. He may have been worthless in other matches, but he was the right person in the right time then.

I must confess, I had tears in my eyes when the match was over. Tears of joy and relief.

All Blacks V The Phoenix Foundation

THURSDAY, 29th Sept.

I still have three levels of Te Papa to see, but Thursday wasn’t the best day to go there, because the weather was so lovely that I just went for a walk along the waterfront. There are many little shops by the water. I went into Maori Arts Gallery and was surprised how cheap they had souvenirs which are sometimes twice more expensive at Visitor Centres. I was about to pay for a gift for my mum, when I heard the seller’s voice “Hey, you! I know who you are. Come here!” I looked up and I saw Ali Williams coming into the shop! He was so tall that he had to bow his head to get through the door frame. He was dressed casually, a t-shirt and shorts with jersey tied over his hips. He was smiling, looking around and humbly did whatever you asked him for. It happened so unexpected! I took my journal out and gave him to sign it. The lady gave him her Visitor Book.

Ali was still signing her book, when she said, “Oh! There’s that pretty one!” And someone or maybe it was me said, “That’s Dan Carter!” He was on the quay already signing and being photographed, but there weren’t many people around him. I took my journal and he signed it too.

I totally forgot that I had a camera in my phone, but it was so fast. I was also surprised he was my height and even more handsome in person, very gentle and patient. When there was no one around him, he looked around and run away 😀 Or maybe he was jogging and he was disturbed by his fans and just continued what he had been doing. 😛

I went back to the shop to finish the business and now every time my mum will be wearing that little gift I’ll be remembering the day when I met two All Blacks. 🙂

When I left, the lady stood out in front of her shop in hope to see more players. I took a walk along Cuba Street.

My possible future carrier?

LOL

Late afternoon, I spent at the Library. They have free WiFi, if you use your own computer, but you have to log in every 30 minutes. Very annoying but it’s better than paying $4 per hour at the internet café.

After dinner at the hostel, I went to the Rugby Village Fanzone. The Phoenix Foundation gave a free concert and they were great, as usual.

You can hear it yourself. I love their new song, Supernatural, which is at about 27min30sec.

More my photos and someone’s videos I found on YouTube are on my other website. After the concert I talked to Luke, Sam and Richie. Last time I saw them it was in London in February this year and now I’m here. Luke admitted it was weird to see me here, but also great. True. I couldn’t believe that as well.

Another portion of TPF I’ll have on Friday.

ups and downs

Saturday started not very happy for me. I realised I had left my bag with toiletries in bathroom last night and when I went back in the morning, it was gone. I shouldn’t have gone to bed so late. It makes me absent-minded. I asked the cleaners, but there was no bag left in their room after the night shift. Either they lied to me or someone from the backpackers took it. It made me feel a bit down for a while. I couldn’t even comb my hair! Good thing that I had my toothbrush from the plane in my rucksack, so I at least brushed my teeth. One of many loses during my journey, I guess.

Getting on-line for free cheered me up. H. had texted me that the Library had free wifi, so finally I could catch up on what’s happening in my world, like TAIKA WAITITI IS IN DA HOUSE! 😀 He’s a bigger rugby fan than I thought. I’ll have my eyes all around my head every time I’m in Auckland now.

H. also let me know that the All Blacks were going to be in Aotea Square on Queen Street at 4:30 p.m. The square was almost on the other side of the street! The Library closed at 4:00, had enough time to leave my laptop in my hostel room, grab my camera and be back before the ABs arrived in their white coach. There was already a big crowd, because the program started at 3:30. Later I found out that I missed Holly Smith’s performance. 😦

One of the first who got off the bus was the couch, Graham Henry and then the rest followed.

The team was welcomed by Maori dancers. They performed haka. I couldn’t take a proper picture, because I was snapping without looking into my camera and others were doing the same thing. The good side of this is that you can now find plenty of videos on YouTube from this ceremony.


And then the team moved onto stage. I managed to take this photo of Dan

And a couple of other ABs


The ceremony started from prayers, dance, songs and official welcomes in Maori


Then the rest was in English, luckily. Everyone got a cap and a gift from the city

Richie McCaw, the captain said a couple words and the ceremony finished with singing the New Zealand anthem.

The guys stayed on stage for an official photo then on the way back to their coach they were giving autographs. I didn’t even try to get close to the barriers, it was so crowded. I was about 2m from Graham Henry, though. They didn’t stay long. The All Blacks came and it rained. It rained when they were leaving.

So no Sky Tower tonight too. I went to a store for my toiletries along the Quay Street and found The Giant Ball at Queen Wharf.

Auckland is getting ready for this gigantic festival. Today I saw in Sky City more redecorations for new bars and restaurants, when I went to collect my tickets on matches I’m going to. Am I really here?! Is this really happening?!

Wallabies V All Blacks

The last weekend in Australia kept me busy, because you realise that there’s still so much to see and not much time left. But after all, my priority was to get used to being down-under and get as much comfortable as possible and I think it’s been achieved.

OK, so first, what I did on Saturday.

I started with being very useful and practical. I leant how to make scones. My friend, S., who took me to his College a couple days earlier, had told me that his dad gives tutorials to foreigners from time to time on scone making, so I said that I’d love to learn. He was free on Saturday morning and they weren’t that difficult to make. The scones came out delicious, so yummy with strawberry jam and whipped cream and I hope you’ll get the chance of tasting my scones some time in the future.

After the scones we went to Chermside, left the car by the shopping centre there and went to Brisbane by bus (you could travel by bus on a rugby ticket on that day). Unfortunately, it was raining the whole day and it only stopped just before the match, so that meant spending most of the time inside. I visited Australia the Gift (a souvenir shop) in the city centre, then crossed the River and went to Queensland Museum (an interesting exhibition about Torres Strait Islanders) and Gallery of Modern Art partially, because it was getting late and we were getting hungry. We went to Myer Centre and I had my noodles from a box first time in my life, just like in films (no, we don’t have them in Poland, I think; we don’t even have a Chinese restaurant in my hometown!).

I was a bit tired, hot chocolate put me on my feet on the way to Suncorp Stadium. The closer we were to the Stadium the more excited I was. Then when I found my seat, it turned out that I was pretty close to the field. We were early enough to see the teams warming up and I was able to come down to row 1 and take some photos of Dan Carter practicing his kicks.


An indigenous artist playing didgeridoo

Anthems

The All Blacks supporters, that’s where I was sitting 😀

Haka! (watch)

The game. First half the All Blacks played rubbish and I was like, “Is this what I came for?!” They were loosing the ball (I know, it was slippery, but the Wallabies played with the same one) and lost so many chances to score some points. It was 20:6 for the Wallabies.

After the break they got better in the second half, two tries and for a little while there was a tie. It was great to cheer them on together with some Kiwis (I suspect there were a couple thousand there. The venue was sold out and there were about 52,000 people all together). Not for long after the AB’s second try, the Aussies scored another try. Even though Cooper missed two kicks, it was too late to wake up for the All Blacks and Australia won 25:20 and the 2011 Tri Nations.

Essential Aussie moment: someone on the bus back home started singing Waltzing Matilda.

I hope New Zealand will be in a better form for the Rugby World Cup starting in two weeks.