15th – 28th FEBRUARY 2023
Tour Managers Reviews
England Tour of New Zealand 2023
Why not read our customer testimonials, or check out the packages we offered for the New Zealand 2023 tour…
Nick & Carole Joyce
Bay of Islands, Test Matches & South Island
The hottest sporting ticket these days must be the England Test Team playing away.
We were thoroughly entertained by the team in this two Test tour of New Zealand. A fabulous win at Mount Manganui which included the six that made Ben Stokes the record six hitter in Test cricket and Anderson and Broad breaking the combined wicket record for two bowlers playing together. Both were described as an “I was there moment,” by one of our regular tourists. It was great to see Joe Root batting as we know he can and Harry Brook has shown he will be around for a few years to come…
The team produced a great performance at a wonderful location. Our apartments were situated almost adjacent to the stunning beach and the imposing Mount Manganui, both of which provided stunning exercise locations for our tour party and were within walking distance of the Bay Oval. The cafes and restaurants produced wonderful food in a relaxed atmosphere.
The second Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington was another thriller, England losing by a single run with the capacity crowd gripped by this match. We saw some great English batting and some tremendous ‘old-fashioned’ Test cricket by the determined New Zealand team. Enthralling stuff which, England perhaps should have won, but due to the way England play these days and the manner in which New Zealand responded, cricket became the winner.
Either side of the Test matches, a number of us initially visited the Bay of Islands then afterwards the South Island. The Bay of Islands tour was badly affected by the cyclone that passed through our location. The resulting State of Emergency prevented most of the planned activities from going ahead and created an eye opening return journey to Auckland with the continual evidence of fallen trees, landslips, flooding and road closures causing us a few issues, all successfully navigated!
Our journey to Wellington was also disrupted, the severe storm damage in Napier preventing our visit there, however our changed plan resulted in two pleasurable nights spent in Rotorua, experiencing all it has to offer both culturally and geographically. Special mention of the evening Hangi, a Māori experience and meal which was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone where our Chief for the night, Ray, lead us through the experience of Māori activities and traditions.
The South Island extension was another wonderful experience, we left the North Island via the port at Wellington, crossing the Cook Strait by ferry to Picton. Staying in Nelson for two nights, we explored the Northern area of the Abel Tasman National Park before travelling down the stunning West Coast, driving eventually to Queenstown via a host of interesting locations. I had not done the early part of this tour before and I found the mountainous scenery to be stunning, especially when the summit of Mt Cook suddenly appeared through the clouds with Fox glacier, lit by the sunlight, shining below it. The mountains were complemented by the magnitude of the valleys, some of which were the locations for scenes in “Lord of the Rings.” We also took to the water again in Milford Sound and enjoyed our cruise out towards the Tasman Sea. Our party were particularly adventurous on this tour, some taking scenic sea plane flights over the lakes and volcanoes of Rotorua, some choosing to take the return scenic flight from Milford Sound to Queenstown.
It is difficult to include everything that we experienced across the whole tour, from arrival to departure but suffice to say, this welcoming country has very high standards. The hotels were always good and the quality of the food and wine outstanding even in the aftermath of Covid, with its economic and staffing challenges and the shocking destruction caused by the cyclone. To see how the local communities gathered so quickly to clear trees that obstructed our route from the Bay of Islands to Auckland, and the particular kindness of one person who guided us the last few miles to the city when we were confronted by yet another road closure, was a true testament to the acclaimed New Zealand character and spirit which embraces everyone who visits.
There were new and exciting experiences aplenty on this tour. Friendships were made and some re-kindled from previous tours: we had some great social times and enjoyed two fantastic International Test matches, making this yet another hugely memorable tour. Carole and I thoroughly enjoyed the company of a fabulous touring group and have many memories to share.
It is a great pleasure to say once again, “I was there.”
Test Matches & South Island
Bryan said to me just before the end of that thrilling – if occasionally challenging – Pakistan tour in December: “well David, after this, New Zealand should be a doddle…”.
His words came back as Cyclone Gabriella detained a Leicestershire couple and myself for an unscheduled 48 hours in Kuala Lumpur, en-route to New Zealand. Others were held up in Dubai, Sydney, Singapore and Melbourne, waiting for their connecting flights to be able to land at Auckland International.
As manager of the Bowlers tour group, a Travelodge room had been booked for me in the area of Auckland where the Americas Cup was held. I got as far as Reception, met the group and then we all climbed aboard a bus to Mount Maunganui – location of the first test match.
What a lovely place it is. Not Out Travel had selected excellent apartments at the foothills of the mountain (a big hill, really). My roommate, a solid Carmarthen man, insisted we go up it most mornings before breakfast. On one of our hikes, we saw Michael Atherton and Nick Hoult running down it!
Gorgeous breakfasts had been arranged at a café overlooking the shore and we went through the menu during our week in residence. Oh, and I’m pleased to say the west Walian talked me into a couple of sea swims!
The local Oval is a splendid ground, and a walkable distance from our accommodation. England‘s bowlers dominated the home team in the evening sessions under lights. Nice that the mother of a veteran seamer, managing the Batters tour, was present to observe her lad show he ‘still has it’!
We then moved onto Rotorua, with a few tourists who had already visited the town flying straight to Wellington, utilising the flexibility of the Not Out office! The majority made for the thermal springs town between the test matches. Of interest to this ‘people watcher’ was seeing men and women of mature years partake in a range of outdoor events from zip lining to luge riding in the pleasant holiday town. Really, we remain kids at heart – it is only the toys that change!
And so to windy ‘Willington’. The locals rarely come across a vowel without flattening it; before the end Mr and Mrs Parrish became ‘the Perishes’.
The Basin Reserve is one of the great venues (question: how many test grounds are in the middle of a *roundabout?), and this time it produced a magnificent match.
The closest possible finish, ending on the final afternoon, means a good wicket. Three centuries, with wickets for quick and slow bowlers. Well done the groundsman.
Then to the gorgeous south island – a smorgasbord of lakes and mountains; scenery, you can drink with your eyes. It helped that Brian, our bus driver, was physically and philosophically on the same page as my fellow Tour Manager, Nick – their double act was enjoyable to observe.
Our medic from the Scottish Highlands excelled in restaurant bookings – he is welcome on future tours as a food & beverage specialist!
There were many moving parts with cyclone-affected late arrivals; Napier being inaccessible for the same reason; problems with the Wellington to Picton ferry – however Charlie and the Not Out team just quietly got on with it, and ensured the careful planning of the trip was not adversely affected by events beyond anyone’s control.
*we agreed that Galle qualified; there was some debate about the Oval!
See you soon on a future Not Out Travel Tour!