Rugby Match in Dunedin

November 21, 2014  •  1 Comment

*Post written by Vlad*

After an adventurous 3 days in Franz Josef, we headed east to South Island's second largest city, Dunedin (Christchurch is first). One of the main reasons for our visit was to see the Kiwis play England in the Four Nations rugby tournament (Samoa and Australia were the other two participants). 

We pulled up to our Airbnb house and immediately took in the beautiful view from the hills. One of our hosts, Margie, was originally from Minnesota, so it was refreshing to chat with her about her experiences of living in NZ for 11 years and how it compared to the States. Together with her Kiwi husband they are in the process of relocating back to the States. We had so much fun chatting with this couple that by the end of the stay we felt like old friends. On our first night there, as per our custom, we headed out for a post drive beer and food at Inch Bar, who happened to be hosting a lovely, mediocre, local band. 

Saturday, November 7, 2014: Game day!

I was extremely excited since I had been itching to see live sports, something other than football, hockey, basketball and baseball, since we began our travels. I had been telling friends and locals that we were going to see the famous All Blacks play. This is the NZ national rugby UNION team and perhaps the most famous rugby team in the world. However, an employee in a Champions sports store in Auckland informed me of the difference between rugby union and rugby league. While the All Blacks were in Chicago playing a friendly against the American team, we were scheduled to see the Kiwis, the NZ national rugby LEAGUE team. In any case I was thrilled to see live sports at a national level.

For me, there's something nostalgic about national anthems, especially at sporting events. This was no exception, partly because I knew the words to the English anthem (God Save the Queen was sung at the end of each school day in elementary school) and party due to the home crowd proudly belting out their anthem, which was in both Maori and English. After the anthems the Kiwis performed the much anticipated Haka, a war cry/dance/challenge traditionally performed by New Zealand sports teams prior to battle. Both Edyta and I were looking forward to seeing this live. For an example of the All Blacks Haka, click here (while both impressive, the All blacks Haka is known more globally than the Kiwis Haka). 

The game was an entertaining affair, which consisted of fast, back and forth action combined with hard, bone crushing hits. It's amazing to see these guys, not only play without pads, but also play both offense and defense non stop for each of the 40 minute halves. In the end, the home side Kiwis came out victorious 16-14 to advance to the finals in Wellington (Note: the Kiwis eventually won the final with a victory over the Kangaroos of Australia). 

The next day, we headed north about 45 minutes to see the Moreaki boulders, huge, spherical boulders on the shores of Koekohe beach. While it's not exactly known now they were formed, it definitely involves a combination of calcite, erosion, pressure, salt and time (lots of time, about 4 - 5.5 million years to form one). 

We also saved some time to check out the city of Dunedin and agreed it was quite nice. The Flemish Renaissance style Dunedin Railway Station provided a beautiful backdrop for a farmers market and also housed the New Zealand Sports Museum. The Cadbury factory was a perfect spot to grab a rich hot chocolate and to stock up on a few treats. 

Overall, it was pleasant stay in the South Island's second largest city.

Geography: Dunedin is situated on the south east coast of the South Island. 

Population:  Out of 4.47 million people that live in New Zealand, 126,000 live in Dunedin.

Best Known for: New Zealand's largest city by area; the name comes from Dun Eideann which is the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland; many first settlers were from Scottland; Baldwin Street in Dunedin is the world's steepest residential street; home to University of Otago, New Zealand's first university; Forsyth Barr Stadium; Cadbury Factory

What We Noticed: lots of elevation as part of the city is in the valley and part on the surrounding slopes; steep roads; lots of collage aged people. 

The drive from Franz Josef to Dunedin was pretty long. 

Lake Hawea, on the drive from Franz Josef to Dunedin. Of course we had to pull over and snap a pic.  This pic would make for a good Toyota ad. One of the many beautiful roads in New Zealand. Pretty cool how the lake and my shirt match. Organic, grass-fed labels not needed in NZ. Man, these sheep have it good.  Never seen a blue picket fence before.  Our cozy room equipped with the standard electric blanket. Our host was an artist, thus the funky decor. This is actually a toned down version as she had to make it somewhat basic to put the house on the market. The ceilings were originally painted a swirly blue to resemble the inside of a paua shell. Sunset above DunedinSunset above DunedinSunset above Dunedin Sunset over Dunedin from the veranda.  Dunedin Railway Station. The black brick was beautiful. Inside of the train station. 

New Zealand basketball legend Stanley Hill at the New Zealand Sports Museum inside of the Dunedin Railway Station. Perhaps, current Oklahoma City starting center Steven Adams will be enshrined here one day. Baldwin St., the world's steepest residential street (far ahead). Mural at the top of Baldwin St. Example of Dunedin architecture. 

Ever see hot water bottles at a cafe or bar? This is one way patrons can combat the chilly weather while sitting on the patio.  One of the streets in the central Dunedin area called The Octogon.  Streets of Dunedin. 

Poster of the Haka. In the middle is Richie McCaw, captain of the All Blacks, and first person to ever captain a national rugby squad 100 times. Some of the tempting desserts at the Cadbury Cafe.

Hot chocolate at the Cadbury Factory in Dunedin Hot chocolate at the Cadbury Factory in Dunedin Hot chocolate at the Cadbury Factory in Dunedin We indulged in this delicious caramel hot chocolate. Good thing we split one, it was super sweet. 

The Kiwi squad lining up for the national anthems. The Kiwis doing the Haka in Dunedin November 2014 The Kiwis doing the Haka in Dunedin November 2014 Check out the video of the Kiwis doing the haka. 

Kickoff to start the game.  Streaker at the Kiwis vs. England rugby game in Dunedin November 2014Streaker at the Kiwis vs. England rugby game in Dunedin November 2014 Here's another video of a naked dude running through the rugby field. He was fast. 

First live rugby match did not disappoint. Crane kick on a Moeraki boulder.  The least comfortable position to get a tan. Edyta being swallowed by a boulder. Pretty cool how the boulders look like giant turtles resting on the beach.  Find Waldo aka Edyta.  Moeraki boulders from a lookout point.  On our way back we took the scenic route.  Edyta's favorite animals of New Zealand. 



Absolutely breathtaking scenery and views in this post. It all looks to beautiful to be true. Good to know that places like that still exist in the world.

I love that you guys got to go to a rugby game! Too bad it wasn't the All Blacks like you wanted Vladdy, although if the Kiwi won the nationals, maybe that was an even better call! :)
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