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. 😀

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?!

Broncos V Warriors

I just got my first watching rugby live experience and the match was awesome! It was between two teams of the National Rugby League, Brisbane Broncos and New Zealand Warriors at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. At first, when P. offered me going to see the match, I wasn’t so keen on it, because he was talking about watching a footie and I thought he was talking about football / soccer and I’m not a fan of this sport (Aussies have this funny way of creating new words like: brekky, cabbie or barbie). But when I discovered he meant rugby, then… yeah!

The atmosphere before, during and after the match was amazing. I couldn’t believe I could see so great variaty of supporters. There were whole families, parents with their small kids, even 3 year old boys and girls, women older than my mum (I’d say they were about 70 years old), men and of course the youth and people in my age. The whole event was like one big family festival, all well behaving and enjoying their time together. I loved it.

The game was keeping me on the edge of my seat. First half belonged to New Zealand (yay!), but during the second half Australia earned some points and there was a tie score for a while. I was supporting the Warriors, but I didn’t mind if the Broncos won, because the match was really special for the locals. The captain of the team from Brisbane, Darren Lockyer is going to retire soon and this was, I think his last match at the home stadium. And he did well. He scored the last point with a goal and the Broncos won 21:20. But New Zealand should blame themselves, because they missed three kicks. As a consolation, I know the All Blacks “shredded” the Wallabies tonight, and that game was more important.

These guys were just so cool and sweet. The one on the right asked me if I work ‘here’. Apparently, I looked very professional or they were very drunk. 😀 I’ll have to work on my live sport events shots a bit more. 😉