The Seventh Day of the New Zealand Tour
Day Seven Sunday June 9th.
Time to pack up and move on. There’s only been a few hours sleep under most people’s belts but the victory from the previous night has energised the group and there’s a spring in our step as we leave Timaru. The wonderful staff of the Grosvenor Hotel are all lined up to wave us away – joined by Wally Bell and Brendan O’Driscoll – as our coach driver, Brian Lamond, edges the coach away for our three hour journey to Dunedin. The entertainment on the early part of the journey is provided by Guy Easterby who gives an account of the previous night’s events and calls on various members of the party to come forward and bare all, so-to-speak, about their behaviour in the Sails pub last night.
Tyrone Howe and Geordan Murphy feature prominently in Easetrby’s recall and they’re suitably chastised before the Llanelli man cedes the microphone and we are allowed view the spectacular scenery outside.
The land immediately south of Timaru is undulating until we return to the familiar flatlands which stretch out until we pass through Omaru in North Otago. Just outside that rural town we pass by a field where a Friesian cow grazes contentedly, the white patches painted red (black and red the colours of the Cantebury Crusaders). South of Maheno we hit the coast and are treated to spectacular drive alongside the Pacific Ocean.
We leave the Pacific breakers behind us and just after Moeraki turn inland and stop in Palmerston for a break. The De Rail cafi benefits from the unexpected custom and after 30 minutes we’re back on the coach
The funny men on the trip are Easterby and Alan Quinlan and anyone can be the recipient of their caustic tongues. Our coach driver for example gets an awful slagging because he obeys such things as speed limits. He’s also been given the unenviable nick-name of Skunk. Why ? Because he has red hair (like Anthony Horgan who is known to his Munster colleagues as Skunk) although this hasn’t been explained to him so he’s probably spending most of his free time in the shower! With the roars of Go On. Go On. ringing in his ears, Lamond overtakes a sheep transporter (it was doing about 10 kph) and after the cheers have died down, a lone voice pipes up Yer one mad bastard Skunk.
We pass through Waikouaiti with its Kildare Street (and not a sign of a government minister) – earlier there was a sign for Bushy Park Road in Maheno – and arrive in Dunedin at around 1pm. First stop is the Moana Pool and twenty minutes in the water for the players and assistant coach Declan Kidney who cuts quite a dash (kinda). Then over to The Southern Cross Hotel on the corner of Princes and High Street where the Champions of Otago Pipe Band are waiting to welcome and pipe us into the hotel.
There’s a meal ready in the spacious players room which has a TV, table tennis table, football table and the usual requirements for the players who will spend a good deal of their time here. Some players drift downtown to find somewhere to match the Tyson fight and the plan for the rest of the day is to have the evening meal at 6.30pm and an early night to catch up on the sleep deprivation from our previous night’s exertions.