British Lions Tour 2017 In WellingtonIn June and July 2017, rugby fever in the capital is set to reach full throttle with the British and Irish Lions Tour to New Zealand stopping in Wellington for a week to play two matches. It’s been 12 years since the last tour and New Zealand eagerly awaits their return.
The first Wellington match on the Lions 2017 Tour, on June 27th, will be against local Super Rugby team the Wellington Hurricanes. The second, on July 1st, will be a much anticipated test match against the All Blacks. As the second in the three-match test series, the Wellington game could prove pivotal in deciding who goes home with the spoils at the end of the tour.
Both matches will be played at Westpac Stadium, affectionately known as ‘The Cake Tin’ by locals for its round shape and high metal sides.
With four days between matches on the much anticipated 2017 Lions Tour to New Zealand, there will be plenty of time for local fans, rugby enthusiasts from outside Wellington, and the touring Lions supporters to enjoy what the capital has to offer.
Eat, drink and be merry
Wellington is known for its cafe and restaurant culture so you won’t be short of places to eat and drink during a stay.
If you are a rugby fan you might want to check out The Green Man pub. A combination of two great hospitable nations - Kiwis and the Irish, The Green Man is the local haunt for members of the Wellington Lions and Hurricanes rugby teams as well as various other sports players including the Central Pulse netballers, so you might even spot a sports star during your visit. With brands including Heineken and Guinness on offer, Lions supporters will feel right at home even on the other side of the world.
Other good options for sports fans who don’t have tickets but still want to watch the match somewhere with atmosphere include the Four Kings in Dixon Street - with its 70 flatscreen televisions and posher than average sports bar menu including duck pate and venison burgers and wild mushroom tarts. There’s also Lovelocks Sports Bar in Bond Street. Named after New Zealand’s first ever Olympic gold medal winner Jack Lovelock, this bar offers a range of beers, Hell Pizza and a TAB onsite in case you fancy the odds.
If you are looking for some time out on non-match days, head to Cuba Street to experience Wellington’s eclectic mix of restaurants, try afternoon tea in one of the many cafes or, head to the Friday Night Market in Cuba Street for street food from around the world.
If you’d like to make more of an event of your drinking and dining or you want to celebrate a win in style, pick up a copy of the ‘Craft Beer Trail Map’ and work your way through 20 of the capital’s most innovative breweries while sampling some of the best craft beer New Zealand has to offer. Complete all 20 and get your map stamped at each one (you can get stamps for food and non- alcoholic drinks as well) and you can claim a T-shirt to say you conquered the trail.
Things to do in Wellington between matches
Wellington itself has plenty of attractions to keep you busy in-between games. Dubbed the ‘coolest little capital in the world’, Wellington has something for everyone. A compact city, the area is easy to get around whether you are bringing a campervan, travelling on foot, or hopping on the bus. Here are just a few of the must do’s
Wellington Cable Car
Take a trip from Lambton Quay up the incline in the Cable Car. Enjoy the short ride through several tunnels and nab a seat at the end of the carriage for spectacular views over Wellington city.
The capital’s award winning museum, Te Papa explores the history of New Zealand’s natural environment, and its culture. From the giant squid to the outdoor bush walk the museum has something for everyone. An added attraction is the Gallipoli: The Scale of our War which explores the stories of eight New Zealanders in the First World War depicted nearly two and a half times life-size.
For a true Kiwi experience Zealandia, in the CBD is the place to be. Walk through acres of native bush or take a nighttime tour to experience glowworms, tuatara and, if you are lucky, even a Kiwi foraging in the bush.
The Botanic Garden
Nestled above the city and the location of the last stop of the Cable Car, the Gardens are a haven away from the hustle of the streets below. Enjoy a pleasant stroll through the greenery past native trees and formal planting. The trail winds around to the city so why not take the Cable Car up and walk back down.
Rugby Museum in Palmerston North
If you have the means to head slightly further afield, then the Rugby Museum in Palmerston North is also well worth a visit. Around two hours drive from Wellington, Palmerston North is home to the New Zealand Rugby Museum, the first museum devoted to the oval ball game. The museum covers the history of rugby from the 1870s to the modern day and tells the stories of some of the most famous All Blacks. Even more fun is the Have a Go zone where young and old can test their skills at kicking, sprinting, tackling and scrummaging. If you fancy yourself as the next Richie McCaw or Dan Carter, here’s a chance to challenge yourself.
The focus may be on rugby for these five days in winter, but take the time to see what else Wellington has to offer and you won’t be disappointed, no matter which side of the scoreline your team ends up after the final whistles.
Written By: Arwen Hann, My Guide
Photo Credit: Daniel Radcliffes