New Zealand's summer of cricket

From sunrise to sunset, New Zealand is warming up to field a summer of cricket and one-off festivities on an international scale.

With four weeks to go until the opening matches of ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 – shared by New Zealand and Australia – the countdown to one of the world’s biggest sporting events is now well underway.  

In New Zealand, ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 will play out in seven host centres offering sports fans a chance to experience one of the most passionate sporting countries on earth. Along with the Kiwi summer weather at its best, travelling fans will find that match venues are all within easy access of unique attractions. Roll in a calendar of fun events to celebrate the occasion — a nationwide ‘festival of cricket’ — and there’s going to be plenty for cricket fans to pack in. 

Even before the tournament officially begins, all eyes will be on Christchurch as the South Island city hosts a spectacular opening event on Thursday 12 February. Then, on 14 February, cricket-lovers will get their Valentine as New Zealand takes on Sri Lanka on Hagley Oval’s hallowed cricket ground.

The free opening event in Christchurch’s North Hagley Park — the biggest party the city has seen in years — will be a celebration of host nation New Zealand’s culture and passion for cricket with a game of ‘big backyard cricket’, and appearances by New Zealand cricket heroes Sir Richard Hadlee, Stephen Fleming and Brendon McCullum. The big party will include a light and music spectacular telling ‘The Christchurch Story’, top Kiwi music acts – Hayley Westernra, Sol3Mio and Ginny Blackmore – and a massive fireworks display. 

Festivities will also follow the tournament into some of New Zealand’s most beautiful regions.

On the North Island’s eastern seaboard, coastal hotspot Napier is one of the country’s sunniest sporting venues and famous as the world capital of Art Deco glamour. This busy port shelters some of the world’s finest Art Deco, Spanish Mission and Stripped Classical architecture of the 1930s, rivalling the art nouveau Metro precincts of Paris as a civic ode to period style.

All this thirties romance and style comes to life en masse each February during Napier’s world famous Tremains Art Deco Weekend (18 - 22 February 2015) – a joyful weekend that’s stretched into a week-long party of over 200 Art Deco-themed events, dozens of luxury vintage cars and live jazz on the streets, and crowds dressed to party in flapper dresses and Great Gatsby styles.

This year, the Art Deco celebrations will set the scene for Napier’s ICC Cricket World Cup action. The first game is scheduled for 4 March but ahead of that Napier is blending cricket with Art Deco on 25 February by hosting a Legends of Cricket Art Deco Match — an afternoon of Twenty20 entertainment with some of the game’s most popular cricketers of yesteryear in a New Zealand versus the rest of the world fun match.

Entry is free for anyone with a ticket to a Cricket World Cup match to be played in Napier. Cricket fans are invited to don their 1930s threads, bowl up to the beautiful setting of the Clifton County Cricket Club — in coastal wine country at Te Awanga, just south of Napier — to be transported to a vintage era of cricketing grace. Players, including New Zealand’s 1992 Cricket World Cup heroes Mark Greatbatch and Chris Harris, will be kitted out in period gear, too.

Hamilton – one of New Zealand’s fastest growing urban centres – will host three Cricket World Cup matches between 15 February and 13 March.  

This is the region that has given New Zealand one of its most talked-about tourist attractions — Hobbiton Movie Set, created for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies and the only permanent movie set in the world, is an easy 45-minute drive out of the city, near the charming country town of Matamata.

Hobbiton, which has played host to more than 800,000 visitors, will provide the serene green setting for an exclusive event on 9 March – a game of backyard cricket on the village green under the celebrated party tree. This once-in-a-lifetime experience will begin with a tour of ‘The Shire’ village set, followed by the informal evening match and - as it wouldn’t be cricket without a few cold beverages afterwards - the after-match will be conducted at Hobbiton’s own quirky 17th-century styled Green Dragon Inn. 

With almost 100,000 registered players, cricket is New Zealand’s biggest summer sport and Informal cricket games are an essential ingredient in a Kiwi summer – in the backyard, or on the beach, barefoot in the sands of iconic holiday spots.

At the top of the South Island – just across Cook Strait from Wellington – Nelson is renowned as one of the sunniest spots in New Zealand with a splendid necklace of gold-sand beaches, three national parks and a creative community that has been drawn to this beautiful slice of New Zealand. 

It also holds a significant place in the history of New Zealand cricket as the earliest known match was played here in 1844. And then there’s the ‘Nelson’ – a quirky cricketing tradition that Nelson is preparing to demonstrate to the world.  At lovely Saxton Oval, visitors will be able to join in to ‘do the Nelson’, hashtag #Nelson111 or the 111 world record. 

On 14 February kids will have a ball at Tahuna Sportsground playing their own mini-version of the Cricket World Cup and learn about all the teams and cultures represented.  March 1 is the day when Nelson’s cricket and heritage will come together for Race Unity Day – an annual festival of cultural diversity that will be extended to welcome the cultures of all the international cricket teams competing in New Zealand and Australia. 

These local celebrations are just a taste of what New Zealanders have in store across the country to provide visiting cricket fans with the memories of a lifetime.  

About the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 

ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 will be co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia, with 49 matches to be played between 14 February and 29 March. There are seven host cities in New Zealand: Auckland, Hamilton, Napier, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin.

Fast Facts:

  • ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 will be hosted by Australia and New Zealand
  • 14 teams: Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, West Indies and Zimbabwe
  • 14 Host Cities: Adelaide, Auckland, Brisbane, Canberra, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Hobart, Napier, Nelson, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Wellington
  • 42 pool matches – three in each host city
  • Every visiting team plays in both countries