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Sports in
New Zealand

 The Kiwis are competitive and sporty people.  Due to New Zealand’s weather, the sports that are practiced can be split into categories; there are those sports which are mostly practiced in summer and those only practiced in winter. For example, soccer is only played in winter, while cricket is only played in summer. Its kind of hard to understand, but the Kiwis thinks that during summer when its 24 degrees Celsius, it is too hot to play sports which are very physical and will cause you to sweat a lot. Summer is time to practice water sports such as boating, diving, water skiing, surfing, fishing, or the classic summer sport of cricket (which is pretty slow). New Zealand’s favourite sports include: Rugby, Cricket, Soccer, Basketball, Netball, Snow sports, Surfing, Swimming, Hockey, Tennis, Fishing, Cycling and Golf. The most popular sport by far is the Rugby. All group sports are played in clubs, and to play you will normally have to join one of these clubs. Games and tournaments are generally played on weekends, and normally involves travelling to different towns to play different teams. Parents and friends often to games to support.

Rugby is to New Zealand what Football (soccer) is to Brazil. There are two types of Rugby that are played. One is called “Rugby Union”, and the other is called “Rugby League”.  They are played a little differently have slightly different rules, but both attract huge crowds. Rugby Union is the most popular of the two, and the day that their national rugby teams plays, The All Blacks, at least half of NZ will stop to watch the game (especially if it is against Australia). Practically every town has a rugby field, where regional games are played on the weekends. Often you will also see kids in parks or beaches kicking the rugby ball around, but as I have mention before, group sports are often left for playing in clubs. (photo Andy Todd).

Cricket like I have said is a summer sport, and it is a pretty slow game. It is NZ’s second favourite sport, but the number one sport played in parks by adults and kids, due to the fact that you don’t need a whole great deal of people to have a little game. It is especially popular with the Indian, Pakistani and Sri Lanka communities.International Competition between  ex-British colonized countries are fierce and New Zealand is very competitive. Cricket attracts many New Zealander to stadiums, and especially the TV with games taking hours and hours and hours...

Surf is a sport which is practiced mostly in Summer and by the younger crowd. In winter the surfies normally turn their attention to Skateboarding. It not hard to imagine why, since in winter water temperature drops to a freezing 12 degrees, and only those who have a desire to turn into a penguin or human ice block, brave it out. For that they need to wear thick wetsuits, including hood, gloves, and booties. Some even wear thermal clothing underneath their wetsuits. During summer its anther story and in the beaches of the north island it is even possible to go into the water with just shorts. Water temperatures a side, New Zealand has great surf spots and waves, many of which are completely uncrowned. Auckland has no waves, but just 40km away you will what is arguably  the best wave in New Zealand, Raglan. New Zealand is surrounded by coastline (since it is an Island) so there are many options for surfing. The Coromandel Peninsula and Mount Maunganui in Bay of Plenty, are the best options from Auckland and Tauranga. Gisborne on the east coast, and Taranaki on the west coast, also have great spots. In the south Island from Kaikoura to Dunedin apart from finding a great number of seals, penguins, and whales, you will also find some good waves. Most Kiwi surfer have good manners, and respect the surf rules. Surf shops sell both second hand surfboards and wetsuits, and you maybe able to pick up a decent board for around NZ$200.

Skiing and Snowboarding are very popular during winter time on both the North and South islands. New Zealand’s Ski fields are world renowned In the North the best place to practice is on mount Ruapehu, and in the South island is in the town of Queenstown. NZ produces many top-level professionals in these sports.

Netball is another very popular sport in New Zealand, but women and girls mostly practice it. The game is similar to Basketball, but still very different. There is no backboard to the hoop and there are several unique rules to the sport. New Zealand has won many tittles in this sport. 

Golf is also very popular, and is mostly practiced by the older population. When I say older I mean 30 +. The number and quality of Golf courses is very impressive and New Zealand has excellent golf professionals. One thing that came to my attention was that from all the people that I knew in New Zealand, none played rugby or cricket, but all played a game of golf at least once a month, and often the whole family would go out to play. 

  Football (soccer) in New Zealand is quite weak. The national Football Team is the All Whites, are champion in losing games and not qualifying for the world cup.  Football is mostly practiced in schools and in clubs by kids. After the age of 18 most have stopped playing it.  Those who do keep playing play for city clubs, but still mostly as a hobby and not as a profession. Anyway...

Diving and spear fishing are excellent in Bay of Plenty, Coromandel, and Northlands. Fat Lobsters wait for you in the oceans depths. Octopuses are big and abundant since no ones catches them, because no one knows how to cook them. My friend Andrew (left on photo) is the only New Zealander that I know who knows how to cook it, but that’s only because I showed him. Scallops and abalone are very meaty, and the NZ mussels are world-renowned. Wetsuit is an essential item, and diving equipment are easily found and are generally of good quality. Diving weapons on the other hand leaves much to be desired but are essentials in some places for protection against sharks.

All other sports that you could probably think off are practiced in New Zealand. All you will need to do is search for clubs and associations that you will find what you are looking for. Rowing, Cycling, mountain climbing, wind surfing, kite surfing, sky diving etc. Gyms also offer many fitness programs and sports that can be done by people of all ages such as martial arts, pilates, yoga. Another favourite sport amongst the New Zealand is beer pint lifting. To teach a sport it is normally necessary for you to undertake a course. Athletes representing NZ internationally often lack backing and sponsors and often have to dig into their own pockets.

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