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Dublin: -1°C Thursday 15 April 2021

In the saddle: you will hit a lofty mountain...

“Upon questioning from Ambassador Nick Quinn, they informed us that they were dressed in such a manner with the hope of increasing male patronage at the bar.”

Throughout the Rugby World Cup a group of Irish fans have taken part in the official IRFU Charitable Trust Cycle Tour of New Zealand. Wearing their official jersey - which you can buy here - they’ll criss-cross the country, following the team throughout the tournament.

Whaia te iti kahuranga ki te tuahu koe me he maunga teitei – Aim for the highest cloud so that if you miss it, you will hit a lofty mountain

An old Maori proverb, for those who have or will cycle around the South Island of New Zealand this statement will have an all too practical sentiment, although it is in fact the lofty mountains of the country that force you to aim at the clouds.

Along the way to Queenstown we stopped in a couple of interesting spots.

The first was Haast where we got together at the local for dinner, a large building within which dozens of antlers were slung over the rafters, however the effort behind the aesthetics of the room was overshadowed by two women in bikinis.

Upon questioning from Ambassador Nick Quinn, they informed us that they were dressed in such a manner with the hope of increasing male patronage at the bar.

It seemed to be a tactic that was working, although numbers could have been raised by the locals hopes that Australia might embarrass themselves against the US on the big screen at the back wall.

We moved on from Haast inland toward Wanaka, a town on a lake of the same name. A 140km day like the one before it we climbed steadily toward the town and the foot of the Crown Range pass. Although the morning was made a little bit tougher by some insanely heavy rain, luckily it let up as we moved closer to lake Wanaka where a nice tailwind made it a little easier to enjoy cycling along the banks of the huge body of water, with mountains that rise directly from its banks.

That night in Wanaka we had a BBQ put together by our resident chef Niall McDermott before watching the All Blacks play France. Joined by several Kiwis including ex-All Black Kenny Stuart who played against our Reveille Officer Robbie McGrath we had a pretty good night.

However enjoyable though in the back of everyone’s head was the climb that we were about to face on the way to Queenstown over the Crown Range.

Although a shorter day than usual the road into Queenstown would see us climb over 1,000m.

Hit with some of the steepest climbs we had seen and a slight headwind we forced our way up and over the range in order to drop down into lakeside holiday town. A drop which revelled some of the best views the South Island has to offer unfortunately had little time for distractions as a mistake on the steep road down could have required some significant medical attention.

Help out the lads and get your official IRFU Charity Cycle Jersey here>

About the author:

AJ Garry

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