A STAG GOES BARMY: England cricket fan Craig Norwood’s New Zealand tour blog

editorial image

WELCOME to the second blog by Mansfield Town fan Craig Norwood as he travels New Zealand with the Barmy Army following the England cricket team.

As well as his take on the performances of Alastair Cook and the boys during the tour, he will be also giving you a fascinating insight into what the Barmy Army gets up to away from the terraces.

Here Craig takes a look at the stunning scenery he encountered in between the first and second tests in Dunedin and Wellington.

NEXT stop of the trip was the picturesque town of Queenstown. I had seen some pictures of the guys who attended the warm up and also had a friend living and working there at the moment during a one year stay. I knew this was going to be one of those stunning places where you just think ‘wow’!

We elected to take the track AND trail route from Dunedin which involved a 58km journey on the Taireri Gorge Railway, then a four-hour bus journey to take us into QT.

The train leg was to take us through the rugged and spectacular Taieri River Gorge, across iron viaducts and through

tunnels carved by hand more than 100 years ago. We were to pass many old sheep stations and reading through the leaflets we had, I couldn’t help but give a childish laugh that one of the stations we were to pass through was called ‘Arthur’s Knob’; it’s the small things in life that amuse me. They call the journey one of the world’s Great Train Trips, and I couldn’t help but agree as we passed some stunning scenery across Otago on the two-hour train leg.

We arrived into Queenstown some eight hours after leaving Dunedin and I did immediately think ‘wow’. I have visited some great places on my travels, but there was just something about QT that was extra special.

Having the mountain ranges The Remarkables and Cecil Peak surrounding Lake Wakatipu certainly creates an amazing backdrop. It’s a popular town full of tourists, especially backpackers from across the globe and with it being the adventure capital of the world it’s easy to see why. Bungy jumping, skiing, sky diving and jet boating to name just a few, this place knows how to party.

Our time was short in QT as we had booked a day trip to Milford Sound the next day, so participating in any extreme sports would need to wait to later in the trip.

The hostel I was staying in was literally on the lake, you couldn’t have got a more perfect location. Night was falling fast not long after arrival so it was time to have a quick walk around this town and it didn’t disappoint, it was just a shame I

wouldn’t have long to experience it.

I met up with my friend who was living in QT and with her enthusiasm you could see why she had stopped to live here for a few months. Pictures only tell a short story, you need to witness it firsthand just how great a place it is.

The next day was a pre-booked trip to Milford Sound, which is a fjord about hourours drive from Queenstown. An early start was required for our trip with Jucy Cruizes. Quite a good name and the driver Oz gave a great insight into all passing locations on the journey. Oz like most (around 20,000) other local people had helped on production of the recent Hobbit series, as well as the Lord Of The Rings trilogy and he had some great stories to tell along the way as well as pointing out locations used for the

film.

I must admit I’m no fan of the franchise, mainly because I haven’t seen it, but blokes dressed up in funny ears aren’t my cup of tea.

This was going to be a long day, around a 13-hour round trip but the whole journey before arriving at Milford Sound was going to be stunning.

I had heard so much about this place and that it was a must see location. The journey to get there was to be around six hours overall before embarking on a cruise down the fjord. My disappointment the day before of not being able to get

a photo as we passed on the train at ‘Arthur’s Knob’, was soon put to rest when we stopped for a toilet

break at ‘Knob’s Flat’, quite an apt name for a toilet break. I obviously couldn’t pass up an opportunity

to run straight to the sign to take a picture, but another British girl did the same so perhaps it is the British sense of humour.

More pit stops ensued on the way and one particular highlight was when we stopped at the ‘Mirror Lakes’ It literally does what it says on the tin, with the mountains and trees reflecting into the water.

The journey was proving a highlight in itself just to get to Milford Sound through snow capped mountains. We finally arrived at

The Milford and what a view and place it was.

It was a busy place with boats departing frequently and you could see why with stunning backdrops throughout. It was time to embark on the hour-and-a-half cruise and I felt lucky that it was a beautiful sunny day, as it

does have around 182 rain days a year. In saying that, once on the trip, I couldn’t help but feel it would be

great to witness it in the rain as well. We saw a permanent waterfall coming down one of the glaciers,

some rain would have generated hundreds of waterfalls into the fjord. It really was a fantastic cruise and experience and one of the highlights of my visit to New Zealand.

It was time for the four-hour journey back to Queenstown and to meet up with friends for another quiet night out. By quiet I do mean quiet, it doesn’t happen often but other friends were to continue sightseeing before flying home and we had an early flight to catch to Wellington on the north Island the next morning.