The Big Countdown
Okay, well officially the countdown began a long, long time ago (just ask anyone who knows me) but we really are within touching distance now and it still doesn't feel real. This is the trip of a lifetime for me and combines at least two items from my bucket list, vist New Zealand and attend a Rugby World Cup final. To manage to do both things at the same time is a little hard to comprehend being as New Zealand only rates behind Wales for obsessing over rugby. I guess anyone who isn't a rugby fan will find it hard to appreciate just how big a deal this trip is for a rugby nut like me.
Anyway, we have finally (hallelujah) finalised the itinerary. It has taken hours and hours of phone calls, a flight from Glasgow to Reading mixed with copious amounts of alcohol and a very dodgy pizza, and yet more hours of phone calls to get to this point. It was tougher than we thought, so much to see and do, so little time to do it. In the end we've kind of compromised and are having a really full on first week or so, followed by some serious chilling for the last 10/11 days and nights. In our last discussion, we reminded ourselves that whilst we are both looking forward to seeing New Zealand, we want to see the rugby and enjoy the atmosphere. So the quarter-finals are being watched more-or-less on the hoof and the semi-finals are being watched with no "only drink until" deadline and no reason to get up the next day other than to watch the second semi-final.
What have we been warned about? I love it when people "warn" you about travelling in other countries; sometimes there are sensible red light issues and other times they just don't seem right or make sense.
1. There are not many people in New Zealand and the South Island is less populated than the North so don't get lost! I guess people have neither heard of maps or GPS!
2. The people in the South are neither as friendly nor as welcoming as those in the North. Gotta love those generalisations!
3. Lord of the Rings tourists are not appreciated. Okay, now I kind of understand this one if it's true, however, I do think I am going to find it hard to say, "Where does Frodo live?" at least once while I am over there. This maybe a good reason to stay off the beer! Nah.
4. And my absolute favourite, "it's a small place". This lulled us into a false sense of security with the whole, "we can do it all" scenario. The fact we are on the road for 16.5 hours over the first 4 days and then just two days later we have a 13 hour day to drive from the South Island to Rotorua proves them so very, very wrong. Thanks guys!