Had to change planes at Christchurch so it took a while to get to Hamilton from Queenstown, where I got an efficient shuttle bus and arrived at the perfectly located Commercial Hotel at 9pm. Its a strange place, upstairs where the laundry room is it resembles a weirdos convention - I wouldnt have fancied staying up there on my own. Luckily I was meeting Gibbo and we had a good room downstairs anyway.
The following morning the Test Match started, New Zealand racked up 470 in a day and a half and we replied with a very very slow 350 taking us half way through the 4th day. NZ then tried to get quick runs to give them a big enough lead to declare but a brilliant hatrick from Sidebottom and great catches by Cook meant they set us 300 to win in just under a day. We never got close, another dire batting display and we lost by nearly 200 runs. The ground was great, we brought 5 day tickets for Pds28 and sat on the bank in five days of glorious warm sunshine which made up for our slow batting. I bumped into quite a few people I met in Sri Lanka and as ever on cricket tours the atmosphere was very friendly and good fun, including some fancy dress - Captain Cook being the best.
In the evenings the Barmy Army had designated the Loaded Hog as its pub, so beer was cheap and flowed pretty well. Gibbo and I though ventured to various other bars and played a lot of pool and had plenty of Macs Gold lager.
Last night we, and many other England fans, also went to the Super 14s Rubgy and saw the local team, the Chiefs come back from 17-0 down at half time to beat the Cheethas (South African) 22-20 in a cracking game at a decent ground.
Hamilton is a small town, there isnt a lot here except a pretty river flowing alongside a couple of parks but has been a great venue for the cricket.
I'm really enjoying the trip, there are certainly times when you miss friends, family and being at home but I've found the whole thing as exciting as I hoped I would. Probably spending a fraction more than budget but not too bad - hopefully! Occasionally worry a bit about what I'll do when I get home but not that much because whatever its been so well worth it!
Thats it for now, i'm in an internet cafe with a bunch of loud swearing chavs who are driving me mad....!