When I found out the Rugby World Cup was in Wellington (a mere three-hour flight away from Melbourne) and that a sorority friend from university was living in Wellington at the moment, I just couldn’t resist a weekend away. My first national sporting event didn’t disappoint: our rallying cry quickly became that we may not have won the game…but we definitely won the after-party.
New Zealand hadn’t been too high up on my must-travel list, even though I’m constantly in awe of the photos I see of travelers and expats of both the North and South Island. Even though I don’t necessarily need all-inclusive ski holidays for families during the winter, I had still considered hopping over to New Zealand this winter to practice my snowboarding, but decided to focus on saving up and traveling through Australia instead. I’m so glad that I decided to suffer through customs and jet lag and waking up at 2am to make it to work in Melbourne at Monday: I absolutely fell in love with Wellington, the All-Blacks, Rugby Union and New Zealand.
The gorgeous Wellington waterfront was lined with iconic rugby photos. I also checked out Hard on the Heels: Peter Bush Capturing the All-Blacks: a wonderful exhibit by a truly talented sports photographer.
The All-Blacks were certainly the toast of the town: going to the bar to watch the All-Blacks battle Les Bleus was just as awesome as seeing the USA versus Australia game in person.
The preparty at the Chicago Bar on the Wellington waterfront was full of red, white and blue: one of the friendliest and most positive atmospheres I’ve ever discovered in a bar!
A kid breakdances to a marching band outside the stadium: brilliant!
Our view from inside the stadium: I was lucky enough to have a Rugby Union player provide a running commentary on what the heck was going on. Among the many things I learned, I found out that the higher the seat is in rugby, the better it is to allow you to see plays unfold on the field below.
Like I said, the USA may have lost the game, but the camaraderie before, during and after the USA versus Australia game was unreal. There were plenty of Kiwis sporting red, white and blue–anyone but Australia!–and they were incredibly hospitable. I’ve never been more proud to be an American down under!