Sunday 2nd March
The day we have all been waiting for is finally here! We meet at London Heathrow around 6pm after the early check in with Air New Zealand.
At around 8pm we board the plane and take to the air stopping off in Hong Kong and then onto Auckland New Zealand.
Tuesday 4th March
Some 30 minutes ahead of schedule we complete the 24 hour journey to Auckland, our coach awaited us ready to take us on the 1 hour 40 minute journey to Hamilton. After around an hour of travelling we stopped off at a rest area for some coffee and light lunch. Following the brief break we travelled for a further 30 minutes until we arrived at our first hotel in Hamilton, the 4th biggest city in New Zealand.
The remainder of the day was spent settling in to our first hotel where most of us got our heads down for an afternoon nap to help deal with the time difference. Early evening at the hotel we all met up for the welcome buffet dinner. After a very nice meal some of the group watched the Aussie vs India final and then headed off to bed early since it had been a long day of travelling.
Tuesday 4th March, 10.10am
Some 30 minutes ahead of schedule we completed the 24 hour journey to Auckland, our coach awaited us ready to take us on the 1 hour 40 minute journey to Hamilton. After around an hour of travelling we stopped off at a rest area for some coffee and light lunch. Following the brief break we travelled for a further 30 minutes until we arrived at our first hotel in Hamilton, the 4th biggest city in New Zealand.
The remainder of the day was spent settling in to our first hotel where most of us got our heads down for an afternoon nap to help deal with the time difference. Early evening at the hotel we all met up for the welcome buffet dinner. After a very nice meal some of the group watched the Aussie vs India final and then headed off to bed early since it had been a long day of travelling
Wednesday 5th March
After a good night sleep 7.30am soon arrived and it was time to get ourselves ready for breakfast at the hotel. Our group made their way to the dining room for a fully cooked breakfast and we were soon ready for the 10 minute walk to Seddon Park at 9.00am. Since it was the first day it made perfect sense to arrive early, to witness the toss and soak up the early test atmosphere.
New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat first. Although not historically a good decision it made perfect sense since the pitch had been re-laid and looked flat as a pancake. Although England bowled extremely well and kept things tight for the first few overs, it was New Zealand who took the early initiative making a good solid start at the crease.
England’s first wicket fell when Alastair Cook made a fine catch from Bell thanks to Harmison’s bowling. After lunch Flemming became the 2nd casualty from a second superb catch made by Alastair Cook with Collingwood bowling. Panesar and Hoggard continued taking the England wickets and with the score at 282 for 6 it seemed to be England’s day.
Following the cricket some of the group headed straight into town for a few early evening beers. Whilst the remainder of the group headed back to the hotel for welcome shower and early night.
Thursday 6th March
Around 8am we headed down for breakfast. And then took a 15 minute walk to Seddon Park.
The 2nd day commenced on time at 10.30am and the expectations of England getting early wickets didn’t materialize. The morning session was definitely the Kiwi’s and in particular Ross Taylor since he made an outstanding 120 runs and was the anchor for New Zealand's impressive final total of 470.
England's reply was without incident till the dying overs when Alistair Cook top-edged a pull into the deep and then night-watchman, Hoggard, became Chris Martin's second victim.
All the while England captain Michael Vaughan (44 not out) had been sailing along, though he needed his wits about him when the clever Vettori was bowling.
England finished the day on 87-2, and we all then headed back to the hotel to freshen up. We congregated at the bar at around 7pm and took a stroll into town where we ate at a very nice Italian restaurant. After the meal we hit the lively Hamilton town centre where there was plenty lively music and fun to be had.
Friday 7th March
After a cooked breakfast we were soon ready to walk to Sedden Park. The sun was already getting warm and plenty of sun cream was the order of the day. The forecast had suggested temperatures may rise up into the 30’s so a perfect day for Test cricket, or so we thought! England were slow in building runs and witnessing 34 maidens and only 199 runs in 94 overs was hard going.
England closed the day on 286-6 with Collingwood out for 66 thanks to a dubious LBW decision from the bowling of Oram.
After close of play we headed back to the hotel. At 7.30pm some members of the group headed out for an Indian meal at the Jaipur restaurant. The food was somewhat spicy and pleasantly enjoyable. Peter our resident Indian food expert gave the meal the full thumps up!!
A nightcap in the Irish bar and the group were soon ready to head back to the hotel for another early night.
Saturday 8th March
Today had to be a big day for England if they had any chance of saving the game. The morning session was going to be vitally important.
England eventually made 348 runs with Ambrose making a fine 55 on his test debut. New Zealand then started the second innings in good touch and raced to 99-1 with some woefully loose Harmison bowling.
All of a sudden from nowhere England began a fight back with Ryan Sidebottom taking an awesome hat trick. England then piled on the pressure and eventually finished the day on 147-8.
After the excitement of the 4th day, most of the group had a quick turn around and headed out for the Chiefs vs Cheetah’s Rugby match at the Waikato stadium.
The Rebel Sports Super 14 match attracted a decent Hamilton crowd. The game was entertaining and full of excitement. The local Chiefs eventually won the match 22-20 with a late penalty goal. Before the game we all had go at guessing the total combined score and after a quick whip around the pot totalled $20. David who guessed correctly was the lucky winner!
After the match the group headed out into the bustling town centre of Hamilton for a full on Saturday night! The place comes to life at the weekend, with a good mixture of bars, pubs, casino’s and clubs offering a full mix of entertainment to suit all.
Sunday 9th March
Today was a massive day for both England and New Zealand. All 3 results were a possibility. Over breakfast the group discussed the likely outcome of the days play.
As it happened seasoned traveller Richard just about got it right! England struggled and struggled badly. After Vettori’s wicket fell early doors, New Zealand declared and left England with a run chase of 300 in 81 overs.
What happened next can only be described as humiliating, England were bowled out for 110 which completed the 189-run defeat in the opening Test.
The tourists, who were harbouring hopes of victory at the start of the final day at Seddon Park, were dismissed in only 55 overs with Kyle Mills claiming 4 for 16 while fellow seam bowler Chris Martin finished with 3 for 33.
Only two England batsmen, Alastair Cook and Ian Bell, reached double figures during their innings. This added to England’s poor run of form with only one overseas victory in their last 17 Tests.
After close of play we headed back to the hotel for a deserved rest and the opportunity to get organised for tomorrow’s departure for Rotorua.
At around 7.30pm the majority off the group headed out into Hamilton for the final time. Our restaurant of choice was Grillers. Grillers offered a first class selection of all things steak, after dinner we were lulled in for a session at the casino where we could try our hand on the roulette and poker tables.
Steve was the lucky winner on the night, finishing some $28 up from the Poker machines.
At around midnight we were all back at the hotel, ready for the days travelling in the morning.
Monday 10th March
At 8am we headed for the final breakfast at the hotel before boarding our coach at 10am.
We said our good byes to our hosts and boarded the coach for the 1 hour journey to Rotorua.
The journey took us South East through dairying and horse stud farming land to the township of Cambridge where there was an old Church. The whole area is noted for being particularly English in nature.
We then followed the Waitato River past Lake Karapiro and across the bush clad Mamaku ranges to Rotorua in the heart of New Zealand's thermal region. At around 1pm we had a short coffee break and took an initial tour of the town. We then checked in to the Sudima hotel, on the shores of the Rotorua lake.
Initially the group headed into town for a bite to eat and a at 5pm a select few made the 15 minute road journey to Hells Gate, the geothermal reserve set in a 50 acres of park. At the park we saw a selection of steaming fumeroles and pools of boiling mud! Unfortunately the dry summer meant the pools were not as active as they can be but it didn’t make it any less fascinating.
Other members of the group used the afternoon to take in some of Rotorua’s other attractions!! These included Zorbing, where you place yourself in an inflatable ball and roll down a hill. Luge riding, and Sky swinging where the DVD evidence promised the full frightening effects of the experience!
We eventually arrived back at the hotel around 6.45pm, and a rendezvous for dinner was agreed 7.30pm in the hotel bar.
After an initial few drinks we headed into the Rotorua centre for some dinner. We found a restaurant called Stone Bake where a unique dining experience followed.
The meat dishes came out raw on a hot plate and the cooking of the meat was left entirely down to the individual eating it. There were 11 clean plates and we all agreed that the chef deserved all the compliments.
Over dinner we had the privilege of meeting the famous “Deadly” Derek Underwood who used to play for England. He seemed to be having similar problems cooking of his own meal on the hot plate.
We took the opportunity to try and persuade Mr Underwood to play for “Team Howzat” as a ringer in tomorrow's cricket match against the local Rotorua pub team! We will have to wait and see if our secret weapon makes an appearance!
After dinner we found an Irish bar to have a final drink and cap of a fantastic evening. The whole group had got on famously and shared some pleasant stories and experiences.
Tuesday 11th March
Chris and I got up early and used the opportunity to take in some trout fishing. At 7am we were picked up at the hotel reception and taken 15 minutes up the road to Hamurana bay, the shallow end of the Rotorua’s main lake.
We were taken on a boat and where we enjoyed some fine trout fishing. The mornings fishing allowed us to take in some of the magnificent scenery whilst appreciating the early sunrise.
To top the fishing trip off we also caught 6 Rainbow trout and although only 3 made the grade the biggest was a good 4lb 8oz. Typically the biggest fish got away as Chris had his line snapped. Our host Boxer kindle gutted our captured trout ready for us to take back to the hotel dinner.
After all the excitement of the morning’s activities, I took the opportunity to relax and catch up on some work. After all, tonight was our big match against the O’Malley’s pub side (and a first for Team Howzat)!
At 4pm, our coach picked us up and took us to the O’Malley’s pub, where we welcomed with numerous alcoholic beverages. Was it a kind welcoming or were the home side seeking some advantage?!
Team Howzat won the toss and elected to bat (thinking that setting a target would be our best chance). Our first game went OK - Team Howzat managed 81 runs from 16 overs, with outstanding batting achievements from D. Bradley 23 (Run Out) and a fine unbeaten A. Bradley 12 making us think that we had a real chance. However, the O’Malleys could bat and bat well; they passed our target in 12 overs. D. Bradley was the pick of the bowlers taking 3 wickets from his 2 overs! Other highlights included a P. Woods stumping and a G. Carr catch that had the whole team cheering with joy.
After the match we headed back to the pub to enjoy a beer with the Rotorua team, the O’Malleys had kindly put on a BBQ for us and we then proceeded to party the night away. A fantastic evening was had by all, including Chris who won the award for last man home.
Wednesday 12th March
An early wakeup call followed the late night, with us all being fed and watered and ready for the coach by 9am. After an initial one hour drive through pine forests we made our first stop of the day at Hukka Falls on the Waikato river then onto Taupo for a tea/coffee break. From Taupo, we continued south across Tongariro volcanic plateau, where we had the opportunity for photo stops for Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruoe volcanoes, the latter being Mt. Doom from the ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie.
The journey then proceeded through the Mangaweka hills, across the Manawatu plains and down to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, built on the hills around a magnificent natural harbour.
At around 5.30pm, after the initial check in, we congregate at the hotel bar before heading out into Wellington city in search of a local restaurant. With the city centre only being a very short walk away, we were soon settled in at the Chinese restaurant ready for a first class feast.
After dinner, a few decided to stay on for a drink, whilst others made their way home for an early night in anticipation on the first day of the second Test.
Thursday 13th March
At 8.10am the alarm sounded and it was time for a full English breakfast – much appreciated by those who had stayed on for ‘a drink’. We eventually set of for the ground around 9.30am and made the ten minutes walk up Cambridge Terrace to the Basin reserve, the venue for the second test of the three-test series.
The Basin reserve was a very pleasant ground, full of character and a fitting venue for test match cricket! A warm start to the day with typical English conditions meant we were all extremely excited and ready for the start of play.
Again, New Zealand won the toss and sent England into bat and when Vaughan and Cook made very positive starts, it seemed Vittori had made the wrong decision. At lunch, England were 82-0 and looking very good. However, as we know these things can change and shortly after lunch, England were in pieces at 135-5.
With the loss of five England wickets in the afternoon, a very strange day in test cricket continued when England then failed to lose any wickets after tea. Ambrose and Collingwood allowing England to close Day 1 on 291-5.
After the stroll back to the hotel, small parties within the group headed out in Wellington in search of some food.
Friday 14th March
After the early night, we were all up and ready to enjoy the hotel’s cooked breakfast before getting to the ground early for second day’s play. Ambrose soon crossed the 100 mark for his maiden test century, with Collingwood also passing the 50 mark. How things can suddenly change! Ambrose was out for 103 bowled, Mills caught Taylor and Collingwood for 65 with a cracking ball for Gillespie. The final three wickets went for 21 runs leaving England all out for 342.
England then started the bowling attack well, with Anderson taking the early wickets of Bell, How and Sinclair. The England attack continued well into the afternoon completing with possibly the best day of the tour so far. New Zealand finally got bowled out for 198 with Taylor top-scoring on 54! The day finished off with Vaughan and Cook returning to the crease for the final few overs and England batted out the remaining overs well, finishing on four without loss.
It was England’s day again and finally the travelling support had something to cheer about! After lunch, we ventured out to a Mexican bar and grill for some steaks and a few triumphant beers!
Saturday 15th March
It was soon 8.20 and time to get up, and after breakfast we were all ready to take the walk down to the ground. Today promised to be a sell-out and the weather was truly fantastic, red hot without a cloud in the sky.
We needed a good day from England with the bat, and in the grand scheme of things, we did OK. Cook hit a good 60, and although Vaughan was out cheaply for 13, Strauss continued to grow England’s lead with a good 44. The day finished with England well on top-scoring 277-9, so we all headed back off to the hotel, content with the day’s play.
Being Saturday night in the capital city, we all headed out expecting a big night! Although in smaller groups, the city lived up to its expectations. A number of ‘interesting’ stories were being told on Sunday!
Sunday 16th March
Today was totally different to any that we had experienced in Wellington so far; the wind was extremely strong and the air temperature in the ground felt very low. The England support was wrapped in sleeping bags/blankets and thick jumpers!
The morning session started with Paneasr and Anderson back at the crease adding 26 runs before Panesar was caught out, Taylor bowled Martin for 10. England’s session innings finished on 293 leaving New Zealand a run chase of 437.
The New Zealand fight back would need to be of record-breaking proportions and when How was out for eight from the bowling of Sidebottom in only the second over, the game looked very much in England’s favour! However, the second wicket was much harder for England to find with numerous dropped catches and LBW decisions not going England’s way. After lunch, the wickets started to fall with a fine session from the Stuart Broad, who took the wickets of Fleming and Bell.
After tea, the wind dropped slightly and the wickets dried up. McCullum was at the crease and playing very well. At the close of play, there was a moment or two of confusion with the bad light, the umpires offered Oram and Mcullum the light and the players did not hesitate in leaving the field. Some 15 minutes later, the light improved and the players were back on. England then took the new ball and as the light was again fading, Sidebottom took the wicket of Oram with the second ball of a new over. The umpires again offered the batsman the light without finishing the over! The New Zealanders were left asking the question why the light wasn’t offered at the start of the over… an answer we may never know! New Zealand finished the day on 242-6.
After a cold day at the cricket and certain members still recovering from Saturday night’s antics, an early night was had by all, ready for the final day at the beautiful and historic Basin Reserve.
Monday 17th March
Being our final day, we were up early and at the Basin well ahead of schedule to get settled in.
The day started well, with Sidebottom taking the first wicket in the second over of the morning. The remaining three wickets were slightly harder to come by, but eventually Mills, Gillespie & McCullum were all out and the game was well sewn up before the lunch interval.
The ‘man of the match’ award went to a well-deserved Tim Ambrose for his 100 in the first innings. The victory was a great excuse for an early afternoon in the pub, and being St Patrick’s day (and not being Irish) we had all the excuses we needed to get tucked into a few beers!
The day climaxed with the whole group heading out for a meal at Monsson Poon, before heading to our second home, the ‘Welsh Bar’, for a game of pool and a chance to listen to some great acoustic live music! Again, a fantastic evening was had by all.
Tuesday 18th March
The first day of leisure for a while, and the group headed off in many different directions, depending on their chosen activities, which included a ‘Lord of the Rings’ film set tour around many popular sets of the famous film and a cable car ride to the heights of the famous botanical gardens. Some took the opportunity to take a boat ride to Eastbourne Island, a local nature reserve, and the final few enjoyed a trip over to the South Island for the day where they hired mountain bikes for the afternoon and enjoyed the beautiful scenery around Picton.
After a long day of activities, the group were all shattered and took the opportunity to have an early night after packing the bags ready for tomorrow’s departure.
Wednesday 19th March
After the 7.20am wakeup call and the final cooked breakfast at the Copthorne, it was time to check out and get ready for our journey back up to Taupo. The coach collected us on time at 8.45am. During the journey up to lake Taupo, we travelled through small farming townships of Hunterville, Mangaweka and Taihepe, before turning west into the army town of Waiouro.
After lunch, we headed up through the Kariori Forest to the National Park and then onto Whakapapa on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu. When we finally arrived, we spent some time enjoying an afternoon coffee and browsed around the local visitor centre. After the 45 minute stop-off, we drove up to the furthest road section to a place called ‘Top ‘o the Bruce’ for some panoramic views.
During the afternoon, we made the final part of our journey to Taupo across tussock terrain, through forest land around the shores of the main lake.
After checking in, we congregated at the hotel reception at 7pm. After a few drinks in the hotel bar, we ordered Taxi’s and headed off into town for an evening meal. We followed Richard’s suggestion of the Irish bar he visited some 6 years ago, and after a decent enough meal, we headed back to the hotel for a quick night cap at the bar before heading to bed for an early night.
Thursday 20th March
Having a day of leisure, the group had chosen different ways to spend the day off from the cricket. For six members of the group, including Richard (the dark horse) a 15,000ft skydive was the main activity for the day! For us guys and girls it was an early start, the coach collected us from the hotel at 9.10am, so we were up in plenty of time for the full English breakfast.
The company of choice was Taupo Tandem Skydiving, and after the initial pick up, we were taken to the hanger for an introduction and to check in for the dive. Some 20 minutes later, our names were called and it was soon time for the safety videos and clothing before taking the 20 minute ride to our 15,000ft altitude. Pat was the first to jump, followed by Ian, then Richard, Richard, Jon and Heather. The experience of 65 seconds of freefall at 200 kmph is somewhat off an amazing experience. Before any of us had time to think, the parachute was open and we were calmly gliding down to the ground. To say we were all on a massive adrenaline high would be an understatement. Fortunately, we had the experience filmed so the memories and photos will live with us forever.
We eventually arrived back at the hotel around 12.30pm and headed almost straight out into the town centre for some deserved lunch and a beer. The day, however, was still young for some as tales of bungee jumping/scenic flights/rapid speed boats were all being banded about during the course of the afternoon and evening.
Around 7pm and after a short taxi ride, we headed back into town in search of an evening meal, and this was found in a first class Mexican restaurant.
At the hotel, again, we had a nightcap at the bar before heading to bed.
Friday 21st March
We were up reasonable early and down to the restaurant for a cooked breakfast before departing the hotel at 9.30am. We then proceeded to make the two hour journey to our final destination, Napier. The drive took us across the Kaimanawa ranges to the Hawkes Bay region. The journey was extremely scenic and the latter part was kept interesting with the abundance of vineyards that we passed. Before 12 noon we had arrived at our hotel and checked straight in. The remainder of the day was at leisure, so the compulsory look around the town and along the sea front was a must for the group. We also managed to head down to McLean Park for a quick look at the ground and a few social beers opposite in the Pavilion in the adjacent Park.
A good day was had by all and the excitement of the 3rd Test was drawing near so after an evening meal an early night appealed to the majority of the group!
Saturday 22nd March
This morning, the cooked breakfast was delivered to the room around 8.30am, and soon after we was making the 10 minute walk down to the McLean Park, and being the first day it's always nice to see the toss and soak up the atmosphere. Again, our seats were very good, located square off the wicket some three rows back.
For the first time in the tour so far, Vaughan won the toss and elected to bat, and this seemed to be the correct decision with the promise of a flat track and sunshine for the day. However, we witnessed a full-on disaster to the start of the day; Vaughan was out for two LBW by debutant Southee, who then proceeded to take the wickets of Cook and Bell leaving England in shatters at 4-3. Pietersen then started the England rescue; however, Collingwood and Ambrose were also out cheaply. Broad was the only other highlight of the day with a score of 43 to sit alongside Pietersen’s 126. At the close England were 240-7
After we returned back to the hotel and showered, we made the five minute walk into the town centre for an evening meal and then an early night.
Sunday 23rd March
After the pressures of day one, we needed England to add to the overnight score! Broad was out first ball for 42 and the wickets of Panesar and Andersen fell without hardly troubling the scorers. The total for the England first innings was a very under par 253.
The New Zealand first innings started with the early disappointment of losing How for 0 from Sidebottom, but then the Kiwis made it look easy with Fleming and Bell playing in a very positive fashion.
At Lunch, the score had raced onto 93-1 and the England support was looking very disappointed. However, probably one of the most impressive turnarounds was imminent, as after lunch, Sidebottom showed us all what a great bowler he really is; the wickets of Bell, Fleming, Sinclair, Elliot, McCullum & Vettori left him with the most impressive figures of 7-47, and before long, New Zealand were all out for 168 with Broad taking the other three wickets.
The England second innings again started miserably with Vaughan out for four and Cook out for 37. Again on tour, we had witnessed 15 wickets in a day’s test cricket!
This evening we had booked a dinner for the group at the award- winning Charlie’s Steak house. We congregated at the hotel reception at 7pm before making the five minute walk into town. The group then proceeded to enjoy a first class steak meal, the wine flowed and an enjoyable evening was had by all.
For some however, the night was still young and they partied away until the early hours. Happy Easter everybody!
Monday 24th March
After all the excitement of yesterday’s cricket, we were all up nice and early to enjoy breakfast and get to the ground! Today, as always, would be pivotal to the whole test series and we didn’t want to miss any of the action. The day, however, proved to be England’s! Strauss and Bell made very good 100s, and England closed the day on 416 with only three wickets falling; Pietersen for 34, Bell for 110 and Collingwood for 22. This evening, we headed straight off for the RSA club for a few cheap beers and a meal, and at around 8pm we were all heading back to the motel for a night in and a film.
Tuesday 25th March
England started the day with all good intentions and decided to bat positively. With Strauss starting the day on 173, it was apparent they would give him an opportunity for his 200, but unfortunately after just 11 balls he was out for 177 from the bowling of Patel, caught by Bell. Ambrose was then out for 31 but Broad batted well playing some great strokes for an unbeaten 31, before Vaughan called the lads in, declaring on 467 and giving New Zealand a 552 run chase.
The New Zealand second innings started well with Bell and Fleming both making scores in excess of 60. At tea, New Zealand were looking reasonably good at 146-1. However, just when the Kiwis started thinking that maybe a draw or even a world-record-breaking win was an option, the wickets started to tumble. Panesar was England’s hero of the day, taking the wickets of Fleming (in his final ever test innings), Bell, How & Taylor! The day ended with the scores at 222-5 with England firmly on top and looking certain to capture the victory and win the series 2-1.
After all the excitement of the previous night, an early night was in order for most of the group!
Wednesday 26th March
The last day of test cricket for the winter! So, after the penultimate breakfast of the tour, I personally headed down to the ground early for the final time. It was surely going to be England’s day and I didn’t want to miss any of the action.
As predicted, England wrapped up the victory slightly after lunch, but only after we witnessed a truly outstanding performance from debutant Southee with the bat. His ‘not out’ 77 came from just 40 balls - the fastest ever 50 by a New Zealander and the sixth fastest 50 of any test cricketer in the world!
New Zealand were eventually bowled out for 431 leaving England with a 121-run victory! The match presentation took place just in front of our seats, so we were all able to cheer the lads on to their first away test series victory since 04/05. Man of the match, was thoroughly well deserved and went to Ryan Sidebottom. It was also a touching moment seeing Fleming, a true gent of the game, saying a few words during the presentation.
After the presentation, it was time to celebrate and the RSA club seemed a fitting venue for all involved. Around 6pm, we headed back and showered ready for our farewell dinner at the Cobs restaurant on the seafront. After another most enjoyable evening, the younger members of the group headed off to the port to continue the celebrations at the ‘Thirsty Whale’, where the majority of the players joined us for a good sing-along and plenty of beer. At around 2am, we all headed back off to the main town for a night cap and some needed sleep.
Thursday 27th March
Our final morning in New Zealand was greeted with a few sore heads, but tales of players singing and dancing the night away made the hangovers better. At 11am prompt, our coach arrived and we were soon on our way up to Auckland for the return flight. The journey again took us over the Kaimanawa ranges to Taupo and then North on through the farming townships of Tokoroa and Putarura. We made plenty of stops during the drives, and by 6pm were all safely at Auckland International airport.
After checking in and paying the £25 departure tax, we headed airside for a last minute duty free shop and a final drink to dispense of the last dollars. The whole England team was also on board with us, so it was nice to hear that they suffered with similar head aces to ourselves after the victory celebrations.
Some 24 hours later, we safely touched down at London Heathrow after a brief stop in Los Angeles to re-fuel. We said our 'goodbyes' and all headed off in our different directions.
On the final journey home, I reflected on the tour, which yet again, had all gone perfectly! New Zealand is without doubt the most beautiful country on Planet Earth, the tour itself had been a pleasure to be part of, and everything from the transfers, tickets, accommodation, cricket, food and weather had been perfect.
This tour to New Zealand will be hard to beat but with India and Windies around the corner, who knows what can happen?!