Auckland is ready for Rugby World Cup party
Ellerslie as a base – and Auckland is ready for Rugby World Cup party
Kip Brook, Word of Mouth Media NZ
Dateline: Auckland – BTRWC (before the Rugby World Cup)
Mission: Bungy jump off the harbour bridge; swim with dolphins and whales on the Waitemata; and beat two old roosters at squash.
The scene is set for the best exciting holiday ever. Auckland is one of the best cities in the world to get out and enjoy life. It has a sub-tropical climate and everything is so accessible. I set up base at peaceful four-star the Ellerslie Novotel because it so close to the city centre without all the noise and parking hassles of the city. It’s also right next to the Ellerslie racecourse and Cornwall Park – great for runs and walks and plenty of fresh air.
My first challenge is to play squash at the Remuera club with two fit roosters, a bit younger than me. First mission accomplished – victory over both of them. I put my feet up back at the Novotel and chat with the bright young manager Caz Vance who tells me about plans to host big groups for the upcoming Rugby World Cup. Sounds like it will be one big party. All her staff will be dressed in numbered rugby jerseys, just like the All Blacks. Caz is the best young hotel manager in New Zealand. She is smart and sassy.
I am in food-heaven with a stunning seafood pilaf, shrimps, oysters, mussels and salmon finally washed down with a glass of buttery Spy Valley chardonnay. This is dining at its best.
Next morning I saunter down to the harbour bridge but am over-awed, or more like daunted of its size. I scour the city for a t-shirt which say I did the jump!
Instead I scoot down to the Viaduct and grab take a ferry over to the historic seaside village of Devonport which has a slower paced latte atmosphere. The view of Auckland out on the harbour is breathtaking. It’s a breeze driving back to my hotel. Auckland’s traffic jams are notorious. Spaghetti Junction gridlock, long motorway queues, minor crashes, delays, never ending road works and peak hour crush. But luck was on my side.
I pull on my running shoes and jog up through the pohutukawa-lined Cornwall Park up to One Tree Hill – now known as No Tree Hill.
Exhausted, I slide into a big hot bath in my big hotel suite and order gurnard with saffron lemon herb sauce along with a chilled glass of Deutz bubbly.
Caz has some great staff under her and Alex and Courtney are so helpful in organising a cruise next day out on the Hauraki Gulf to see some dolphins: an amazing experience.
It was easy getting into the city centre on a busy Friday because the train station was just 100 metres from the hotel and only minutes to scoot into Britomart and all the restaurants and bars down the Viaduct which has been spruce up for the Rugby World Cup.
After another tasty seafood meal at the Acacia restaurant, I packed up and headed to the airport, disappointed my relaxing and welcome stay at Ellerslie was all over. It was just the best battery-recharging trip.
Auckland has the best of everything for the Rugby world Cup. It’s the gateway to the Pacific and the biggest island city in the South Pacific. According to Wikipedia the Auckland region covers 6059km2 while greater London rams 11 million people inside 1570km2. Auckland has more volcanoes – 48 – than any city of its size in the world. Luckily they are extinct!
They have at least three times as many high rise building than any other New Zealand city. Their harbour bridge is longer than Sydney’s vaunted flyover. They have more boats and yachts in the harbour than any other city of its size. The Round the Bays annual jog has grown to be one of the world's largest fun-runs with nearly 70,000 taking part.
Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest metropolis by far and home to 1.4 million of the country’s four million people, is known as the City of Sails, though women not watching the rugby will clearly take it to be the City of Sales as they hit the shops and the bargains.