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.

The Phoenix Foundation and Fabulous/Arabia

FRIDAY, 7th October

More and more rugby fans were arraving in Wellington for the Quarter Finals. I checked out from my hostel in the morning, but I chilled out in the launge, then went to the Library. I was waiting for my hosts to come back home from work, so I could leave my bag and go to see The Phoenix Foundation at the Fanzone and later Fabulous/Arabia at Mighty Mighty.

Later that afternoon I got a text from J. they were back. J.&R. are my second CouchSurfing hosts. They’re a young couple living on Mt Cook at the end of upper Cuba Street. She’s a New Zealander a couple years younger than me and he’s from the Netherlands (a very hard accent which my ear had to tune into). R. is in my age. He came for his friends’ wedding over three years ago and met J., found a job and so he’s still here. They’re planning to go to South America next year for a six week holiday.

Wellington is a very small world. R. used to share a flat with The Phoenix Foundation’s manager, Matt and sometimes Dan from The Black Seeds visited their place. 😀

We had pizza for dinner and I rushed to the Rugby Village Fanzone. J.&R. joined me later. I was late, so I missed recording first two songs, “Let Me Die A Woman” and “Bitte Bitte”. The rest is all here. The set was similar to the one from last week but in a different order. And they played “Supernatural” again, which I already love.

The crowd was bigger than the week before and luckily the weather got better, although it was still pretty cold. The guys seemed to enjoy themselves.








After the concert I met up with J.&R. They were tired and decided not to go to the Mighty Mighty with me. They gave me the key to his home and said, I could come back whenever I wanted.

I was early enough at the Mighty Mighty to find a seat. Slowly the bar was filling up with the people from the Fanzone. Going pass the bar, I saw Warner Emery, ex-bass player of The Phoenix Foundation. I was wondering what he was doing now, because I haven’t heard about him for a while. As I found out later, he was a supporting act. He got dressed up in a funny suit, wore sunglasses and a witch nose. He played not my type of music, but if you were interested in listening to it, I can still send you the link.

Fabulous/Arabia started playing at around 11:30 p.m. The band consists of Mike Fabulous, who plays the guitar in The Black Seeds (and of course there are many other projects he’s involved in) and Lawrence Arabia whose real name is James Milne. They’ve just released an album, Unlimited Buffet. Mike made music to James’s lyrics and they’re giving just three concerts in New Zealand in Wellington, Auckland and Nelson. The CD is great, but live is even better. It was pretty loud, but I think the recording came out quite well.

I found a video with a song Southern Gentleman from this show.






Some better photos in an awesome photoset on flickr, but not mine. I decided to stay in one place to have a decent sound. I saw there were photographers, so I was hoping some good shots will come up on the internet anyway.

After the concert I talked to Luke from The Phoenix Foundation and then Hayden from the band which had just played, I was introduced to James Milne, saw other guys from TPF, Nige from WIUO and there were probably many more musicians that I wasn’t aware of.

It was already 1:30 a.m. when I left the Mighty Mighty. I didn’t want to be too late at my new hosts’. Besides, it was too much for my fangirl heart.

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.

Wellington Cable Car and Botanic Garden

WEDNESDAY, 28th Sept.

It was time to go back to Wellington. I left Wanganui at 11 a.m. We had a long one hour stop at Palmerston North, so I took a walk and very close to the bus station there was Rugby Museum. The admission was $12.50, so it was no point paying that money just to spend there half an hour.

I arrived in Wellington after 3 p.m. The weather was too beautiful to stay in the hostel, so I took the cable car to Botanic Garden.


It was late afternoon and the gardens were in the shade, so the photos didn’t come out great, but the garden with tulips was amazing.

I went back to the city through the Gardens. The last part was an old cemetery. I was wondering if there was a Jewish community in New Zealand and I found a couple Jewish graves. I’m posting a high quality photo, so you could zoom in and read the story on the board, if you were interested.

Going back to the hostel, I passed the Rugby Village Fanzone to see if there was any band playing. There was and the audience was probably their families.

I knew New Zealand is very behind, but not that much!

It was actually a prop for a play at St James Theatre and there were more vintage cars on the streets of Wellington that evening.

Te Atatu, Auckland

FRIDAY, 16th Sept.

We left New Plymouth at 8 a.m. and arrived in Auckland at about 2 p.m. We dropped off our bags at G.’s friend’s work place near Sky Tower. We took our time to stretch our legs along Queen Street before she finished her work at 5 p.m. G. visited more sports shops and went to Starbucks. I, on the other hand went to Queen’s Wharf to see what the Auckland Rugby Village FANZONE has to offer. And so I saw these guys,

Some players from the Irish rugby team were signing things and posing to photos. By the time I came back with G., they had already gone.

I got a brochure with program and I was happy to see The Blacks Seeds and Katchafire playing during the RWC Finals weekend, when I’m in Auckland. I hope I’ll be able to see them.

At 5 p.m. we picked up our bags and J. took us to her home. J.&Ch. live with their two sons on Te Atatu peninsula in north Auckland. The boys are 7 and 9 but they are quite tall and much more matured for their age. I really enjoyed their company for the last weekend.

In the evening, J.&Ch.’s friends came to watch rugby together. Everyone had something All Black on them, so I put my scarf on, just to blend in. Watching the All Blacks playing with Japan with a bunch of Kiwis was an unforgettable experience and sometimes even funnier than Flight of the Conchords. My cheeks hurt when they left.

On SATURDAY, we didn’t do much. We took a walk along the coast to get to Te Atatu centre and check out the bus connection. There was a nice view on Auckland.

And great street art on one of the buildings in the town centre.

Later we chilled out, it was another rainy afternoon. I also had to make some plans for the next couple days, so I spent some time on the Internet checking out many options and hoping for the weather to get better.

In the evening we head to Eden Park catching bus 049 (or 048 would be good too). We got off at Bond Street and followed the crowd. The streets were green and it was difficult to spot Aussie supporters wearing yellow.


And these guys asked me if I want to take a photo of them. Sure!

Eden Park is very impressive from the outside

We had seats in the 5th row (EE) on one side of the field. During the first half, it was Australian side and we could see some great actions from Irish.


And I couldn’t believe they won! Probably neither the Wallabies. 😀

On SUNDAY, I slept in and woke up in an empty house. Everyone went to church leaving me behind. When they got back, I was finishing my breakfast. It was another lazy day and no one wanted to go outside, because of…. Yep, you guessed it – the rain.

In the evening G.’s time in New Zealand was over and Ch. took him to the airport. On the way back we stopped at the lookout and saw three huge planes landing at the airport. The boys were very excited.

The guys got even more excited when they found out that I’m a big FOTC fan and we sang Hurt Feelings together. Although, it would suit more to sing Friends, since we were in a car.

Wellyzone

FRIDAY, 9th Sept.

I took my first morning in Wellington very slowly. I checked out before 10 a.m. but I decided to stay in the hostel a little longer, because the rain was too strong and I suspected it might change in an hour or two. I love being surrounded by things which were unusual in Poland and they are normal in New Zealand, like the All Blacks merchandise everywhere, hearing The Black Seeds, Lawrence Arabia and The Phoenix Foundation at hostels or spotting Boy DVD in shops.

At about 12 p.m. it stopped raining. I left my bag in a locker at the hostel ($4 for 12 hours) and went to explore the city. Leaving the YHA, on the left there was New World, a shopping centre. I passed the shop and followed the signs to Te Papa. The museum wasn’t very far away and I was surprised again to see Circa Theatre next to Te Papa. Jemaine Clement’s wife, Miranda Manasiadis used to perform there. Her last play was The Great Gatsby. It was still grey and cloudy, so the photos underneath were taken later that day.

I didn’t go straight to the museum. I decided to wonder around and discover more. I went along the waterfront and found myself in Rugby Village FANZONE. The scene was still empty, but I could see food stalls and tents being put up and everyone getting ready for the afternoon and evening festivities. I crossed the Village, crossed over Jervois Quay and saw Civic Square.


I visited iSite centre and took some brochures. I thought it was about time to go to Te Papa, but on the way back I derailed to New Zealand On Screen installation.

Inside, there was an interactive screen in one room where you could watch whatever you can find on the website. In another room they had a flat screen and you could watch 25 short films. I always wanted to see The Six Dollar Fifty Man (2009, dir. Mark Albiston and Louis Sutherland; the winner at Cannes in 2010), but I couldn’t do it online, because of the area restrictions. The film was really lovely. Then I watched Day Trip (2010, dir. Zoe McIntosh), hilarious Careful With That Axe (2007, dir. Jason Stutter) and Signing Off (1996, dir. Duncan Sarkies). Watching those films I was happy to be inside, because there was heavy rain outside. When I saw the weather got better, on the way out I stole a scene

…took some pictures and went to the Museum. On level 1, there was an interactive installation where you could learn Ka Mate haka moves, so I tried that one. I went into a small room together with two other ladies (maximum six people were allowed per show). It was a very short presentation. You had to follow your on screen teacher and then you were recorded and you could see yourself on a small screen after you left the room. We had a lot of laugh seeing our clumsy dance moves.

I managed to see Te Papa up to level 3 (there are six) when I got a text from H., my friend from Auckland. She came to Wellington for a weekend to see WOW shows. We met up at the Museum and after grabbing something to eat on Cuba Str and having a photo session by the Fountain, we went back to Rugby Village FANZONE to see Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra live. They were amazing, even though the wind wasn’t helping them. I managed to record a couple tunes, so here is Nigel Collins a.k.a. New Zealand Symphony Orchestra singing Cream cover, Sunshine of Your Love.


They were very polite towards other countries taking part in the World Cup. Andy even sang the South African anthem, but when they finished, he showed which team he truly supports.

H. had leave me to meet with her friends and I stayed in the Village to watch other performances and official ceremony of the opening of the Rugby World Cup. As I was watching Samoan and later Maori dancers, I noticed Nigel standing next to me and talking with his friend. That was so random.
I didn’t watch the opening, though. I got a call from my host, who was G.’s (the one from Kippa-Ring) friends’ friend and he said he’d pick me up and we’d go together to the airport to pick up G. who flew from Brisbane via Auckland.

It was great to see G. again, after just over a week. It seemed as if I hadn’t seen him for ages. We arrived in Johnsonville, up in the hills north-west from Wellington, early enough to see the first match of RWC, New Zealand v Tonga. The All Blacks won, of course, but the result wasn’t very impressive.