Monthly Archives: June 2013

Game Time

I haven’t been doing much traveling lately because the weather has gotten colder and wetter.  I’ve been spending my days off going to rugby games and playing golf.  Rough life, I know!  So I have decided to share with you what I have learned so far about rugby.  I’ll also make a game of this post by using some of my favorite kiwi words that we don’t use much in the U.S.  See if you can pick them all out!

First of all, there are two types of rugby; Rugby Union, which most people have heard of, and Rugby League, which comes from Australia.  I have watched both Union and League in person and on television and if you asked me which one I like better I reckon it would probably be the one I’m watching at the moment.  They are both exciting to watch and sometimes hard to understand.

Union is played all over the world, and the most famous team is the NZ All Blacks.  Their first game of the International Season was at the beginning of June against France and I was keen to go to it.  I ended up waiting too long and it sold out before I could buy tickets.  I was pretty gutted, but I still got to see it on television.  Before every game the All Blacks perform the Haka, which is a traditional war cry/dance of the native Maori people.  Every time I see it performed it makes me glad that I’m not on the other team, it’s seriously intimidating!  You can watch a video of it here.

SuperRugby is a league that follows Union rules.  There are a total of 15 teams from 3 countries; NZ, Australia, & South Africa.  The All Blacks chose their players from this league, but only from the 5 NZ teams.  Players are not allowed to play for another country if they want to be on the All Blacks team.

Rugby League is played mostly in Australia, but there is one NZ team called the Warriors.  This version of rugby is most like American Football because they have five chances to move the ball before kicking it.  Other than that, it’s still very different.  Rugby League is, for some reason, more popular with the lower-income crowd.  It’s a popular joke that crime rates go down significantly for two hours while the Warriors are playing because all the hooligans are at the game.

One my favorite things that Union and League have in common is that players who receive a penalty are sent to the Sin Bin.  The Sin Bin!  I would love to have this adopted by the NHL instead of the penalty box.  It’s so much more fun to say!

I’m not going to try and explain the different rules to you now, because it’s hard enough figuring them out with a game playing in front of you.  So I encourage you to look up a local rugby team, pick a mint day, and check it out for yourself!  Even if you don’t really know what’s going on (like curling in the olympics), it’s still exciting to watch (not like curling in the olympics).

So now that you have rugby union and rugby league sorted, have you found all the kiwi words yet?  Leave a comment with the ones you’ve found!

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Wow, Kawau

Today’s adventure started with a one hour drive north to Sandspit.  Yes, Sandspit.  I know.  The drive was easy and picturesque, as usual.  There was a toll road on the way, but there are no toll booths.  Cameras are set up over the road to record your plates and you pay your toll online.  It’s really convenient, but I just have to remember to pay it.

Kawau island was my destination (sounds like cow-wow) with a mail service cruise getting me there and back.  I splurged and went for the longer cruise that takes you around more of the island while delivering mail for the residents on the island.  The boat was pretty big with a nice seating area on the open-air upper deck.

I couldn’t have asked for better weather  in the middle of winter.  It was bright and sunny and about 60 degrees.  I still needed a hat and two coats to stay comfortable on the upper deck but it was worth braving the wind for the awesome views.

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The cruise lasted about an hour and a half and then dropped me off at the Mansion House Bay pier which leads to the, you guessed it, Mansion House.  There are also trails you can take that will lead you all over the island.

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I brought lunch with me and I decided to find a nice quiet place to sit and eat.  I took a trail that looked inviting and headed upwards.  The trail itself was beautiful, full of ferns and pines.  It only took me about 20 minutes to find a great spot that I had all to myself.

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It was very enjoyable to just sit and listen to the water lapping at the base of the cliff and the boats passing by.  After about a half hour I decided to explore more of the island.  I had hoped to glimpse one of the wallabies that live on the island, but no such luck.  I saw some beautiful plants and lots of colorful birds, though.  They even had a couple peacocks wandering around the mansion!

There were plenty of people hanging out around the bay despite the time of the year.  Part of it was the long weekend, a public holiday celebrating the Queen’s birthday on Monday.  It’s an interesting idea for another holiday.  Imagine celebrating the President’s birthday every year, whenever that may be.  I can just see half the country working to spite the holiday.

I haven’t figured out where I’m going next, but I’m sure it will be amazing.  I haven’t been disappointed yet!

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