Rugby fans rejoice! For the first time in 12 years, New Zealand will be hosting the British and Irish Lions Tour 2017.
Photo credit: The Lions 2017 New Zealand Tour ©The British & Irish Lions
Get comfortable in your camper and follow the ‘red army’ for the trip of a lifetime through seven cities in the North and South Islands of New Zealand.
It all begins at the top of the North Island on 3 June at Toll Stadium in Whangarei. In the first of their 10 matches, the Lions will be playing a provincial union team then heading down to Auckland to find their match with the Auckland Blues at Eden Park on 7 June.
The good news is you don’t have to leave Whangarei in a hurry! Whangarei has a lively heart – known as the Town Basin – which is great for soaking up local art and heritage. A few attractions we love are the Whangarei Art Museum, Reyburn House Art Gallery, and if you have time, Claphams Clock Museum.
A jaunt down to the South Island to watch the Lions’ third match in Christchurch with the Crusaders is next on the agenda, and a day trip by camper will bring you to the 4th match on 13 June in Dunedin where they face the mighty Highlanders.
If you feel that you’ve experienced the top of the North Island enough, you can travel down to the South Island to see these matches, but beware, the Lions’ fifth match is back in the North Island in Rotorua on 17 June. Depending on how much sightseeing you’re keen on, it may pay to explore Rotorua and Lake Taupo instead of driving down south. Soaking in the area’s thermal springs could be just what you need to remedy any match losses suffered so far.
By now we’re halfway through and if you’ve followed the team all the way, you’ll have experienced five different New Zealand cities from the easy convenience of your campervan.
Continuing on to Hamilton, the heart of New Zealand’s dairy country, the Chiefs get their chance to lead their team to victory Then we had back up to Auckland for the first test against the world champion All Blacks at Eden Park on 24 June.
Photo credit: The Lions vs the All Blacks ©The British & Irish Lions
From there you have a few days to meander down the North Island. Perhaps head around the East Cape for local kaimoana (food of the sea) and through the Hawke’s Bay and Martinborough for a dose of warmer weather and award winning wine.
By the time you arrive in the capital it will be buzzing with activity. The Hurricanes are facing the Lions on 27 June, while the All Blacks have their second test on 1 July. Both of these matches are held at Westpac Stadium, locally known as ‘the cake tin’.
These two fixtures will give you a few days to check out the city’s sights, such as the treasures and stories of New Zealand in Te Papa Museum, the hobbits and wizards at the infamous Weta Workshop, or get up close and personal with prehistoric creatures at Wellington’s own eco-sanctuary, Zealandia.
For the Lions 10th match and the third and final test with the All Blacks on 8 July, we venture back up to Eden Park in Auckland. The city of sails will be sure to put on a good show for the tour wrap up with lots of fun to be had along North Wharf, the Viaduct and around the Britomart Precinct.
If you’re planning on enjoying New Zealand in your motorhome after the last match, take a look here to add to the Lions Tour stories you’ll be reciting for years to come.