As we all well know, because people won’t stop bloody banging on about it, the Cricket World Cup is just around the corner. Although Australia is the senior host – taking the final, a semi-final, and three-out-of-four quarter-finals – New Zealanders still seem to believe they’re the true hosts of this World Cup.
Which is quite wrong. Indeed, the MCG’s capacity of 100 000 alone could hold the entire population of Napier with 40 000 seats to spare, could cater to every man, woman and child in Nelson twice, could hold almost all of Dunedin, around two thirds of Hamilton, half of Wellington, and a touch under a third of Christchurch.
Nevertheless, just as people still liked Mark Waugh, so some people still take an interest in New Zealand.
So here, then, is a visitor’s guide to New Zealand, geared towards the World Cup host cities.
Firstly, a crucially important notice. When you speak to an Aucklander, make note to praise the city. When speaking to a non-Aucklander, make note to denigrate Auckland to the greatest extent possible.
Australia and New Zealand might be a rivalry more well-known and documented, but it barely compares to the heat and hostility that exists between Aucklanders and the rest of the country.
Non-Aucklanders will call an Aucklander a ‘Jafa’, which is short for ‘Just Another Aucklander’. You can cram the other word in yourself.
The pride of Auckland City is the Sky Tower. It’s a 360-odd metre tall casino shaped as a concrete phallus with an Elizabethan Collar. SKYCITY Casinos own the building, and more or less hold the city by the balls.
The sexual innuendo isn’t out of place. Auckland’s mayor, Len Brown, is an interesting chap. He had an extramarital affair with a Council worker, and they even had a bit of ramby pamby in the Town Hall and Mayoral Office. The worker’s name was Bevan, but was, strangely, a female.
Brown doesn’t quite seem to have realised his folly. He recently had a hidden bathroom and changing room placed behind a bookshelf in his office.
He is, if you will, New Zealand’s Bill Clinton. The only difference is that Brown’s policies are shit to boot.
They also have a “cloud” statue shaped like a giant penis.
The rest of the city is basically a giant pile of concrete, mixed in with dodgy nightclubs, run-down streets, and dead volcanoes.
The beaches are nice, Queen Street has some nice shops, they have the main airport, and Eden Park is an all-right stadium (if you enjoy pitiful straight boundaries and seats with vision of most of the ground obscured), but you don’t really want to be in the city for any longer than the flight in and the game day itself.
Do: go to the beaches (more than anything else, it gets you away from the CBD).
Don’t: go near the mayor. He’ll try and Shane Warne you.
How to introduce yourself: “Hey mate, lovely city this!”
The author’s home city. And a sentence he wishes he didn’t have to utter.
It is an amazing city; just not in a good way. The rest of the country call it the chlamydia capital of the nation, the mayor Julie Hardaker makes Len Brown seem comparatively brilliant, and the city’s greatest claim to fame is a pretty crappy statue of a transvestite scientist from a second rate stage show.
The central city streets are lined with aggressive, dangerous and highly unpleasant beggars – all of whom have state homes and large benefits, but instead choose to insulate the pavement in accordance with the City Council’s attempts to make Hamilton the “homeless capital of New Zealand”.
No, I don’t understand either. Yes, we’ll vote them out next time around.
Seddon Park itself is a beautiful cricket ground, barring the god-awful concrete silo they masquerade as a pavilion. The groundsman – Karl Johnson – is terrific, and prepares terrific pitches.
Sadly, however, the rest of the city is a bit of a dump. The only thing the CBD is good for is the main road to get to the next city, but even that is trumped by the new Ring Road highway that bypasses the city entirely.
If you want to go shopping, go to The Base, a privately owned shopping complex, away from Hardaker’s hare-brained schemes.
If you want to go to a city with a three-quarters empty CBD, with abusive hobos lining the streets, and with a 12500 capacity cricket ground showing off such tiny boundaries that Richard Levi was able to score 130, then Hamilton is for you!
Do: Go to Seddon Park.
Don’t: Leave your tour bus until it gets to the ground.
How to introduce yourself: “No, I don’t have any spare change.”
I went to Napier once, a few years back. It was horrific.
I hope it’s changed now, but when I was there, there was literally not a single café. So if you’re a caffeine addict like myself? Keep driving, McLean Park ain’t for you.
As is really to be expected of a city with a population of 60 000, it’s a very quiet, very dull, very ambiguous location.
It is the Hawke’s Bay though, so if you’re a demi-Boon, you’ll enjoy the vineyards.
They had a decent aquarium, but even that’s shut now.
They occasionally make the news when their waterfront statue gets nicked.
And that’s about it.
The cricket ground is equally nondescript.
So unless you have an unhealthy obsession for Chardonnay, stay clear.
Do: Let me know if you find a café.
Don’t: Go there.
How to introduce yourself: I’d recommend not introducing yourself to locals. It’s a strange person who voluntarily chooses to live in Napier.
The capital city of New Zealand; but because location names are proper nouns, they receive no special distinction on the capital letter front.
Best known for being incredibly, incredibly windy. And because the wind combines with an incredibly awkward runway landing – culminating in a sheer drop towards the ocean – coming in to Wellington Airport is one of the most harrowing experiences anyone can have.
Forget bungee jumping in Queenstown, the true adrenalin experience in New Zealand is being on the last flight before all flights were cancelled, coming in to Wellington Airport in 110km/h winds in the pitch black with (needless to say) extreme turbulence.
One of the nicer cities in New Zealand, the residents lost their thunder to Christchurch after the earthquakes down there – Wellington’s major claim to fame was their track record with earthquakes, and the constant fear that the “big’un” was around the corner. Being the only city in which I’ve experienced a 6+ on the Richter Scale (it was 7.0, I believe), I’d still give Wellington the nod as the Shaky City though.
Fun fact: the Basin Reserve (the most beautiful cricket ground in the world) was formed by an earthquake.
On an unrelated note, Wellington almost elected an obese, transvestite prostitute called Carmen as their mayor. Only a rigged ballot stopped her/him.
That bit wasn’t a joke.
Do: Go to the Houses of Parliament. Give John Key shit for that handshake.
Don’t: Ask why Auckland isn’t the capital.
How to introduce yourself: Don’t. People on the streets in Wellington are protestors outside Parliament. Usually Greenies. Ugh.
If every person in Nelson moved to Melbourne, set up residence in the MCG, and took one seat each, they’d all be able to get a second seat to hold belongings.
And there’d still be seats left over.
It’s hard to make jokes about Nelson, because it’s so small and rubbish that nobody’s actually cared enough about the details of the location to have material to work with. All anyone knows is that Nelson’s small, in the middle of nowhere, and pretty old. (Insert Hugh Hefner joke here).
They do tell people to slap one another in their motto though: Palmam qui meruit ferat (Let him, who has earned it, bear the palm).
They’re the home of the World of Wearable Arts competition (Google it if you haven’t heard of it – trust me, it’s worth it), so if you needed any proof that they’re bonkers, you have it there.
Because no one actually lives in Nelson, everyone you’ll meet there will be a tourist, probably there to watch the West Indies lose to Ireland too.
Do: Visit the World of Wearable Arts museum if you need a good belly laugh.
Don’t: Expect the shopping to be great – I’d suggest leaving the wife in Wellington.
How to introduce yourself: “So, where did you travel from to get to Nelson?”
First things first: since the earthquakes, Christchurch residents have been a bit jumpy. Don’t ask for a chocolate milkshake. It’ll bring on the Post-traumatic stress. Ask for a “chocolate flavoured thickened milk drink”.
Christchurch’s most notable son is Sir Robert Parker, former mayor. His work following the earthquakes was remarkable, and he was rightly rewarded with a knighthood. However, given that his name was Bob, and that he was so heavily involved with the Christchurch rebuild, I can’t help but suggest we should call him Bob the Rebuilder.
Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you criticise Richie McCaw whilst in Christchurch. The results of this can be found here.
If you intend to go to Christchurch to visit Christ’s Church, you’re fresh out of luck. The cathedral was destroyed in the earthquake, and it was replaced with a cardboard one. Seriously.
The entire city is now devoted to the earthquakes, so just be prepared for the fact that you’ll receive endless bloody personal stories about when the earthquakes struck. The only good thing about the earthquakes is that it meant they stopped talking about their rugby team for the first time in the last half a century.
Do: See if you can spot Richard Hadlee. He walks around the city with twelve trumpeters standing astride him, announcing his presence at every location.
Don’t: Mention Richie McCaw’s prolific cheating.
How to introduce yourself: However you like, just don’t make any loud or sudden noises.
Dunedin is best described by the following excerpt from Adam Gilchrist’s True Colours. I apologise for the length of the excerpt, but frankly it does all the talking for me.
“I only remember one down moment in six weeks. We played a one-dayer in Dunedin, on the Carisbrook ground they call the ‘House of Pain’ in rugby circles. In winter it’s cold and wet and almost unbearable for touring teams, and the All Blacks routinely win there. The crowd is unique. Dunedin is a university town, and the ‘scarfies’ – university students wearing their scarves – pack out the terraces. They’d bring lounge chairs, sit on them all day drinking and watching the cricket, then, at night, set them on fire. You’d think the world’s wildest cricket crowds would be in India or the West Indies, but none of them was a patch on the madness and intimidation of those scarfies.
This was a night game, and we’d scored 4-310. We were always on top, and late in their innings Brett Lee bowled a bumper to Adam Parore, who tried to evade it. He flicked back his head and his helmet fell onto the stumps: out, hit wicket. But the scarfies didn’t like it, and started setting objects on fire and throwing them onto the field. They were feral. Just before that incident, a streaker had run onto the field, done a loop of the wicket, then ran all the way back to his mates without having been confronted by security, staff, players or anyone. When he got back to his seat he sat down, still naked, picked up his beer again, and shouted, ‘Get the game going!’ It was anarchy.
At around midnight we rode back to the hotel in vans. One group of guys, Matty Hayden among them, wanted to stop at McDonald’s. Inside, a couple of words were exchanged with some locals angry about the way the game had gone. Our guys came back to the vans and we returned to the hotel. In the morning, the tyres on the van had been slashed, and a little blade was stuck into one of the tyres with a note saying: ‘Hayden, your family will suffer.’
They say the only criminals who get caught are the stupid ones. Well, this was a case in point. The note was signed: ‘Adidas, three stripes.’ One of the guys in McDonald’s had been wearing an Adidas tracksuit top, and wanted Haydos to know he’d written the note. Problem was, the police quickly identified and arrested him – apparently still wearing his top.”
Thanks, Gilly. I don’t think I need to add to that. Only thing that’s changed since that tour is that they now play at University Oval rather than Carisbrook.
Do: Go to day games.
Don’t: Go to night games.
How to introduce yourself: No need to. The locals will be running past you, naked, carrying something on fire. Don’t stop and introduce yourself, just let them keep going.