A relaxing couple of days saw us take in hundreds of beaches, and even some sunbathing... yep we've had some bikini weather! From there it was a drive down to 'Lake' Taupo, let's use that phrase loosely as this so called lake is the size of Singapore!! But it was a great sight with some good walks and waterfalls along the way.
From there we checked the map for the most efficient way of getting to New Plymouth for our match against Namibia. I spotted a road on one map that wasn't on another that went in an almost perfectly straight line to New Plymouth and thought wow, that would save us hours on the big arching roads prominent on the other maps... it turned out this road was called 'The Forgotten Highway' and there was a reason this road no longer features on current road maps.
Long story short we scaled mountainsides, dodged debris and livestock, journeyed deep into Jurrasic rain forests, passed ghost towns, shook along on endless gravel roads to arrive half a day later!! We later chuckled with other 'bright sparks' who had had the same great idea over some cold beers.
Now I'm not sure if it was because the match was played on a Monday; where all other matches were on a weekend. Or if it was because we were the only game that day; where we had previously had other matches to get us ready.
Or if it was because of the nature of the opponent... but the match day atmosphere was a little flatter than that of the other two. One supporter suggested that being the third week people were struggling with all the partying and drinking and eating and hangovers and lack of sleep and singing and travelling... but this is just a poor excuse.
Luckily being New Plymouth's final World Cup game the whole town got behind the two teams and added some great colour and enthusiasm to the weekend.
We were again invited by Trudi Gatland to join locals, family, friends and supporters at Tukapa Rugby Club - a two minute walk to the stadium. We were greeted and hosted well with cheap food and drink, entertainment and yep you've guest it... singing!! The crowd at the stadium probably equalled half supporters and half locals voicing their support, as you know we were treated to a try fest which was great to see Wales putting a team to the sword and not letting up. It was great to watch and enjoyed by all.
A short drink stop at the Rugby Club, where we were congratulated by the club committee and locals treating us to a rendition of their club song... something to do with a metal chicken?! Well I suppose we got a song about a sospan so crack on, we of course returned the favour and Calon Lan was the song of choice. A walk into town to celebrate a great score and a night full of Irish entertainment?
The FanZone was situated outside a popular Irish bar with two bands and the main tent with a third band all mixing in the odd Tom Jones track along with the Irish jig, not to worry a great night was had by all!!
I'd like too just quickly add how Kiwi's are embracing their World Cup fans: Lofty - a manager of a fishing club located just a couple of hundred meters from the campground overrun by the Welsh in New Plymouth where we popped down to watch a few matches on the Sunday - couldn't be more welcoming; he provided drinks at members prices and even free coffee for Cat [my travelling companion] who was taking it 'slow', half time was story time where he'd entertain us with explanations to the massive fish replicas proudly displayed on his club walls, and even provided heaped plates of smoked Marlin for his guests, a genuinely nice guy that enjoyed meeting us.
Earlier in the week we had pulled up to a secluded beach in the Coromandel and thought this would be a great place for lunch when a lady came marching over slippers and all, 'we thought oh no, we can't park here' but no she demanded that we come on in for a coffee and cake with her and her sister. She'd seen many travellers doing the same and once she spotted our Welsh flags there was no stopping her!!