By Taryn Elder, with special thanks to Tourism New Zealand.
When it comes to sport especially that of cricket, Australia–New Zealand (NZ) relations can be...well.... a little fiery at the best of times. However one thing is for certain, both countries share a love for all things cricket.
Over the month of February, the Australian Men’s Cricket Team and the Australian Southern Stars women's team will be calling New Zealand (NZ) their home away from home, as both teams play a number of matches against the home teams.
With special thanks to our ‘friends’ at Tourism New Zealand, we’ve put all rivalries aside to bring you the ultimate beach/backyard cricket travel guide, NZ style. Think ancient glaciers, sky-high mountain ranges and hidden valleys, there really are no limits for your next cricket game in the remote NZ wilderness.
Eglinton Valley - South Island New Zealand
Just a 30 minute drive north from Te Anau on the South Island of New Zealand, Eglinton Valley is the flat valley paradise you’ve been dreaming of for your next backyard cricket match. It’s one of the only road-accessible valleys in Fiordland National Park, which boasts an ancient glacier as well as wild wilderness. It’s also the perfect rest point if you’re on your way to iconic tourist destination Milford Sound.
The flat narrow valley is around two kilometres wide, with clear natural boundaries in place. You can simply stay for the day, or rest your head nearby at Knobs Flat, a local camping ground which also boasts tremendous views of the valley and its surrounds.
Isobel Glacier in Mount Aspiring National Park - South Island New Zealand
Reach new heights (literally) in your backyard cricket career by playing on top of a giant glacier. (Yep..we’re being completely serious here). If you head to Mount Aspiring National Park near Wanaka, on the South Island of New Zealand. You’ll find wild wilderness, breathtaking mountain ranges, crystal clear lakes and giant glaciers. Standing at 7600ft in height, Isobel Glacier is the ultimate bucket list destination for your next backyard cricket match, there is, however one catch. You may need to hire a helicopter to get there.
If you’re still trying to fathom the thought of playing cricket on top of an actual glacier, it’s already been tried and tested for you. Bollywood megastar Sidharth Malhotra was lucky enough to play a game of cricket with former New Zealand cricketer Stephen Fleming on top of the Isobel Glacier, along with fellow NZ cricketers Simon Doull and Scott Styris. They teamed up with their friends from Southern Lakes Helicopters, to land on top of the glacier to play. I guess you could say it’s like cricket’s version of heli-skiing?
What you’ll need: Warm all weather gear, sturdy snow boots, sunscreen (yep, the alpine sun can be brutal), sunglasses, a seat on a helicopter try our friends at Southern Lakes, plenty of water, your own pitch, stumps, cricket ball and bat. Easy!
Takapuna Beach - North Island New Zealand
If you’re more of a fan of the beach cricket variety, then Takapuna Beach which is located in the coastal region of Takapuna is ideal. The flat tidal beach makes it the perfect spot to throw some stumps in the ground and get a game of cricket going. The best thing about this place is that you don’t have to travel far from the capital city of Auckland to get there (around 15 minutes) and once you’re done you can check out the well-known restaurants and nightlife nearby.
90 Mile Beach - North Island New Zealand
How's this for a random location... a long stretch of beach that's actually known as a busy highway! Welcome to the coastal stretch known as 90 Mile Beach. Located on the western coast of the North Island of New Zealand, 90 Mile Beach is a delight for beach 4WD enthusiasts who like to hit the sandy shores and take in some beautiful coastal views. It’s usually nice and flat and when the tide is out, but don’t try and be a hero and hit the ball towards the ocean, because it’s going to be a mighty cold swim to retrieve it!
Queenstown Events Centre - South Island New Zealand
Okay so it might seem a little conventional to take to an actual cricket field for a game of backyard cricket, but not when it’s at the Queenstown Cricket Club's home ground, the Queenstown Events Centre. The view from this field rivals many in the world, with snow-capped mountains (in winter) adorning the horizon, as well as beautiful Lake Wakitipu in the distance.
The oval itself is located around 8km from the city centre and lies at the foot of the Remarkables (mountain range popular with skiers). It’s also smack bang next to Queenstown International Airport, which means you can expect to see flights coming and going constantly, which is a pretty amazing site in itself!
The Clifton County Cricket Club - North Island New Zealand
This place is a mecca for cricket fans with a rich history as well as solid views to match. Surrounded by small green hills (think Lord of the Rings type scenery) and nestled in a natural bowl, this cricket club is like stepping back in time. Located in the gentle Hawke’s Bay Village of Te Awanga, 25 minutes south of Napier, the amphitheatre that surrounds this cricket field is one of a kind.
To give you little bit of history about this famous landmark, the Nilsson Family (original owners) thought a cricket pitch built on the family sheep farm would be a great way to bring family and friends together for some special ‘backyard cricket’. Little did they know people would start traveling from across the country and eventually the world to visit!
And that wraps up our beach and backyard cricket tour in New Zealand for now, find out more about match times as well as flights and accommodation below.
Australia V New Zealand: Matches, dates and locations.
For Australia V New Zealand dates match dates and locations visit cricket.com.au/fixtures
Flights and Accommodation
QANTAS runs regular flights daily to a number of cities around New Zealand. For more information visit qantas.com.au
To find out more about traveling around New Zealand visit the official 100% Pure New Zealand travel website http://www.newzealand.com/au/