November 18th, 2005

New Zealand

The Rugby World Cup, New Zealand, railways, and fun stuff like that.

Well, well, well. New Zealand has won the rights to host Rugby World Cup 2011. I am thrilled, as you would expect, and I suppose I better start saving already because World Cup tickets surely will not come cheap and I'm not the wealthiest man on earth. The finals may be out of my league price-wise (indeed, I believe 2003 was by a clear margin and I doubt things will get any cheaper in 2011), but I'm already wondering what more obscure locations will score games during the early rounds. OK, so we're not about to see games in Eketahuna and Hokitika and Waikanae, but I imagine somewhere like Invercargill may score a game and it's not exactly a typical sight to see top level international rugby there, though whether a game between, say, Romania and the Cook Islands is 'top level' by virtue of being a World Cup fixture is extremely debatable. I'll be looking forward to a schedule that will give me an excuse to tour the country, as I haven't seriously travelled around much of NZ since about 1999 and I don't see myself having the time or finances to do that in the next few years either.

Add onto this the reports that U2's 2006 tour dates of Australia will be announced in this Sunday's papers and the future's looking bright. 2011's quite a way down the line, but it's nice to think of something cool to come after university (at least the undergraduate part), and anything that gives me an excuse to spend time in the homeland is a bloody good thing alright.

Goodness, I miss my country. You better believe that I'm flying over the Auckland U2 gig (or gigs), and that I'm praying for a Wellington show. I haven't seen Wellington since April 2003. I'm kind of nervous as to how much Raumati Beach has grown since I last visited, but I'm not so fiercely attached to Wellington that I want it to remain just like it was in 1997, and walking around the harbour, visiting the Museum of NZ and the Basin Reserve, and riding the cable car would be good. I'm sure by the time I'm next in Wellington, whoever owns New Zealand Rail will have repainted the commuter units again. Maybe this time some Mongol cattle herders will be the owners. Selling off the trains to private enterprise was the stupidest decision ever, as far as NZR goes. Now, they made some dumb decisions in the past, but relinquishing government ownership really did top the lot. Of course, now they've had to re-nationalise the network, but it's a bit too late for the Southerner, isn't it? Yes, let's cancel the passenger train that used to be the flagship of the network, that's a really brilliant move.

Actually, now that I think about it, I'm not sure which was more daft, privatising the railways or the preceding deregulation of the land transport industry. If you can't tell, I'm rather keen on government ownership and all that good stuff. So I'm a wee bit biased, but I'm one of these people who will tell you that what's good for rail is therefore good for the country. It seems to be a rare viewpoint in this day and age of aeroplanes and multiple cars per household, but I am a rail enthusiast, so what do you expect?

This has been quite the rambling, mundane entry full of tangents, hasn't it?