Thursday 6 Oct
After 36 hours travelling with four hour stopovers in Heathrow, Kuala Lumpur and Auckland, the group finally arrived in Wellington at 15:00 local time (0300 in Ireland). With us based in the Bay Plaza hotel located a few hundred metres from Wellington's main street, Courtney Place, jet lag and fatigue were overcome in order to familiarise ourselves with surroundings.
Friday 7 Oct
A free day in Wellington to take in delights from the walking around the city, to trips across the bay, visiting the national museum and taking the cable car to the top of botanical gardens on a mountain with spectacular views overlooking the harbour and city.
Saturday 8 Oct.
After some prematch warmup in the fanzone, we headed to the team hotel to give them a rousing send off to the stadium, for those who were there it was very intense. We quickly followed them albeit without the police escort (some of us could have done with it having roared and jumped so much at the hotel). Unfortunately the green army came up short and that dampened spirits. A lot of the group watched the England France semi in our hotel after which a few souls ventured out to try and overcome their dejection
Sunday 9 Oct.
The group attended the Australia and South Africa with divided loyalties amongst the walkers over which team to support, back to hotel to watch New Zealand beat Argentina. While we had a great time in Wellington, it was time to move on to our next port of call which necessitated a few drinks to say goodbye.
Monday 10 Oct.
After a few delays and diversions, we headed for the airport to fly to Queenstown, as it happened the Australian team bus ended up right behind us and we were able to get photos and autographs with the players before they got into terminal building and were absolutely mobbed. Most patient of all was Leinster hero, Rocky Elsom, who must have had photos taken with every member of the group. After a short flight of 80 minutes we landed in the adventure capital of NZ, picturesque Queenstown.
Tuesday 11 Oct
Walk 1 following the trail around the banks of serene Lake Wakatipu with stunning snow capped mountains as backdrop, a few brave and fit souls ran for a challenge but safe to say all of us were wrecked when we got back to the hotel. We organised a group table quiz which was great fun and very competitive, the quiz was a great way to relax and recuperate after a tough walk and it was followed by sing song and a steward's enquiry into the team who won the quiz. The quiz also gave a chance to cross paths with others we had missed during the first few days.
Wed 12 Oct
A few brave souls were on the bus at 0655 to head to Millford Sound,
NZ busiest tourist attraction and safe to say one of the most beautiful places on earth, unfortunately despite a good start to day's weather in Queenstown the closer we got the worse the weather but a great day was had by all over our 12 hour 600km track. Our guides on bus and boat were excellent and the rain has one benefit the mystique and beauty of the gorges, chasms and waterfalls are enhanced.
Thurs 13 Oct
Free day in Queenstown and the weather came out to help us. a majority of the group went on Shotover Jet, a thrilling speedboat through the canyons of the Shotover river. The boat drivers push it to the limit in how close they push the boat to the canyon walls and rocks which adds to the excitement. When that was over the group headed in various directions, some stuck with water theme and went white water rafting, others bungy jumped, and others walked around town and took cable car to top of mountain overlooking town/ lake, safe to say a great day was had by all regardless of the activity.
Fri 14 Oct
The weather caught up with us in Queenstown and drenched a few people who had hit the golf course bright and early, it also caused plans for some tandem paragliding to be scrubbed but we all problem needed some rest after a hectic 3 days in Queenstown, we caught an afternoon flight to Auckland where the Galway Girls organised the "Ireland Has No Talent" contest in the lobby of hotel. Unfortunately all video and pictures from this event are censored ;)
Saturday 15 Oct
Walk number two around Auckland harbour with changeable weather from sunshine to rain dumping itself on us, a great effort by all, after which we had some rest and headed for the first semi final between Wales and France, just as the game was starting the rain came tumbling down again but despite this the party spirit was not quenched afterwards.
Sunday 16 Oct
A day of rest and recuperation for most, a few of the group headed to town early for a gander around and to sample the atmosphere in the Viaduct, where they were joined later in the afternoon by another crew. Some of the group watched warm up rugby league match between Aus and NZ and we all headed to Eden Park for the big semi final. A few of our group had the nerve to wear Australian jerseys. A great game and all eyes are now on the final.
Mon 17 Oct
On the coach for our next stop, Tauranga in the Bay of Islands, an area which has been devastated by the ship stranded off shore leaking oil. We had a pitshop for a BBQ in Cambridge on the way where all 40 of us were welcomed and fed by a friend of one of the group who obviously likes cooking. Our appreciation to our hosts for a wonderful afternoon, the group tried to re-pay them with a rendition of Ireland's call and the tour's official dance - The Irish Haka by the Galway Girls.