Every four years, the best rugby teams from around the world gather to have it out for the title of World Champion. The 2011 tournament started September 9 and stretches for six weeks in 12 stadiums across both the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Whether you’re a dedicated fan who will be touring the country in search of the best matches or a general sports lover who’ll make your way to Auckland for the final game on October 23, you’ll need some proceedings and adventure to keep you busy between events. And there’s no better place on earth to find outdoor adventure than in New Zealand.
If you’re headed to Whangarei for a contest, keep going north about 35 miles (55 km) to the Bay of Islands, where a diversity of boat tours, from an overnight cruise to a sailing adventure, will show you the natural beauty of the area. If a birds-eye view and sky high thrills are more your business, take a scenic helicopter ride over Bay of Islands and Hole in the Rock – or combine a bay cruise with a helicopter tour and delight in the pristine beauty of the area from both sky and water.
In Auckland, where Eden Park stadium will host a diversity of matches, including the final, you’ll find fascinating day trips to fill your time. Explore a glowworm cave, go for a rainforest walk or stay the remarkable Waitakere Ranges Regional Park.
Before or after matches in Rotorua, in the Bay of Plenty region, take an exciting helicopter flight over volcanic islands or get a taste of native culture at a Maori feast show. And in Wellington, at the very southern tip of the North Island, complement a rugby contest with a Lord of the Rings locations tour or thwart the Cook Honest on the incredibly scenic ferry ride to the South Island.
There aren’t as many World Cup matches on the South Island, but there are certainly enough adventures to be had and gorgeous landscapes to admire. Matches will be held in Dunedin and Invercargill, and from those southern coastal cities, you can explore Queenstown and the Fiordland and Milford Signal region.
In Queenstown, delight in three adrenaline-pumping activities on a combination jet boat, helicopter and white-water rafting tour, or see how quick you can get your heart racing by bungy jumping. In Milford Signal, quite possibly the most stunning place on the earth, it’s all about boat cruises.