Auckland and Wellington may be well known to most tourists to New Zealand, but Invercargill, Dunedin, New Plymouth and Hamilton – where England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland are playing their opening games, are not so well known.
Check out what to see, what to do, and perhaps more importantly, where to drink, if you are taking flights to New Zealand soon.
The North Island
The centre of the Waikato region of New Zealand’s North Island, Hamilton is just 80 miles from Auckland and is the country’s fastest-growing city. Visitors to Hamilton will be able to enjoy such sights in nearby Matamata as Hobbiton, the village created for the Lord of the Rings movies, as well as river trips and kayaking along the Waikato River. Nearby Waitamo Caves are also popular with tourists. Rugby fans will be spoiled for choice when it comes to drinking and entertainment in the city pre and post match. Popular favourites include The Outback Inn, while fans of live music may want to check out Diggers Bar. Dance music fans can find what they are looking for at Monkey Feather.
Hamilton hosts Wales’s World Cup pool games against Samoa and Fiji.
New Plymouth is the major city of the Taranaki Region on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand. The city has a population of around 50,000. It is a great city for outdoor enthusiasts looking to stretch their legs between rugby matches. The city has an extensive cycle network for tourists to explore, as well as a Coastal Walkway along the city’s seafront that is well worth exploring. If you are looking for something a little more energetic, the New Plymouth coast is renowned for big waves, making it a great spot to try your hand at surfing. Just 20 minutes outside the city, Mount Taranaki is a popular spot for skiing, as well as rock climbing and hiking. On match days check out Peggy Gordon’s Celtic Bar, the Stumble Inn and Cafe as well as the Crowded House Bar and Cafe for drinks, food and entertainment.
New Plymouth is host to Wales’s pool game against Namibia as well as Ireland’s match against the USA.
The South Island
The second-largest city on New Zealand’s south island, Dunedin should feel like a home away from home for many Scottish rugby fans: the first permanent settlement was founded by Scots Free Settlers way back in 1847 and the city has a similar architectural style to buildings in Victorian Edinburgh. Wildlife fans are spoiled for choice in Dunedin with the opportunity to see New Zealand Fur Seals, rare Hooker’s Sea Lions and Yellow-Eyed Penguins on nearby Otago Peninsula. Rugby fans in the city can enjoy great nightlife: it is a well known student party-town, as well as a national hotspot for indie music. Speights Ale House, and Toast and Moon Bar are popular places to drink, while Urban Factory is a popular late night club.
Dunedin hosts England’s World Cup pool games against: Argentina, Georgia and Romania.
Located at the southern edge of New Zealand’s South Island and with the sea on the doorstep, Invercargill may not be on everyone’s to-do list when visiting New Zealand. But with fantastic beaches and as the gateway to some of New Zealand’s most popular scenery – Stewart Island, Fjordland and the Catlins among them – Invercargill is a great location to explore the “real” New Zealand during this World Cup. Rugby fans will find plenty of bars to drink up the atmosphere in this friendly city: head to the Bombay Palace Indian Restaurant or the Hong Kong Restaurant afterwards for delicious post-match grub.
Invercargill hosts Scotland’s World Cup pool games against Romania and Georgia.
(Images: Webb-Ellis Cup – americanistadechiapas; )