Most of you will have heard of the “All Blacks”, the New Zealand rugby team. Rugby is the national game and is very deeply embedded in the New Zealand psyche, so much so that my son’s school closed down for the afternoon, to allow everyone the chance to attend a big match.
Cricket is played in the summer months and the competition between New Zealand and Australia is very fierce. For football fans I understand that the standard of the Association game is very much lower than you will be used to in the UK.
Fitness centres are prevalent and most gyms hold aerobics classes. Do not expect a bar or in many cases even any heating. Although you will find every type of indoor sport at separate venues, there are no leisure centres where all the sports are played under one roof.
Cycling is a popular sport and black lycra bottoms are not an unfamiliar sight at traffic lights, as people take off to the hills, to pit their stamina against the environment..
Skiing is popular and most people live near enough to a skifield to be able to take advantage of a day trip if they wish. The drive to the top of the mountain can seem treacherous to newcomers, but the Kiwis think nothing of zooming up the mountainside with their skis strapped to the roof rack. You can hire a cabin to sleep in if you wish to stay overnight, but the lack of ‘apres ski’ may discourage you. Many skiers belong to their own clubs. Special promotions mean that a family of four can have a days skiing, including equipment hire, for $80.00.
Basketball, rowing, and tennis are very much part of school life. There are many excellent tennis clubs but the fees can be expensive. Netball is played extensively by all age groups and most young Kiwi girls dream of being a “Silver Fern” (New Zealand Women’s Netball team) when they grow up.
Fishing is mostly fly or sea fishing, it is an amazing experience to pull a good sized salmon out of the sea, or a trout from a lake and know all it cost was the licence fee for the year. Although it has to be said that some coarse fishermen have been known to complain that they miss float fishing in murky lakes.
The quality of fish are excellent but there are limits on the amount you are allowed to catch per session, the current regulations are distributed with the fishing licences.
Care should be taken when swimming at the beach. Watch out for ‘rips’ - they are outflows of current that can carry you out to sea. They appear as a calm stretch of sea among the waves.