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Make the most of the New Zealand FIFA U-20 World Cup 2015

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FIFA’s second largest tournament will start on the 30-May-2015 right here in NEw Zealand!

The FIFA U-20 World Cup is the same tournament that the original FIFA World Cup but restricted to players under 20 years old. During three weeks the football superstars of the future from 24 countries will compete for the prized cup. Huge stars have come out of the FIFA U-20 like Lionel Messi who competed back in 2005. And this year, it is excepted to be one of the highest level of gameplay ever seen on the field.

But New Zealand will also play a core role in the players’ and visitors’ experience. As one of the most welcoming countries in the world with some of the most diverse landscapes, it would be a crime to just stay in your hotel room after a match! We have put together this guide so you can make the most of each hosting city of the tournament.

Fun facts about the New Zealand FIFA U-20 world cup 2015

New Zealand is proud to be showcasing its culture to the world during the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2015, and this is how the country is doing it:

  • The event mascot is a black sheep called “Wooliam”. Yes, really.
  • The games will be hosted throughout seven cities.
  • To promote the countdown to the tournament, two of New Zealand’s most promising players had a kick-about on the ledge of Auckland’s 328m Sky Tower.
  • The volunteer uniform displays a unique colourful Maori designs.
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Tourism NZ

Auckland

The largest city in New Zealand is made up of 48 volcanic cones. Make sure to visit some of them, whether it’s a stroll up Mt Eden, the highest natural view point in the city, or take the ferry to Rangitoto Island. This 600-year-old volcano is a forested pest-free island. Take the hike to the huge crater over black volcanic rock while listening to the unusual sounds of New Zealand’s native birds.

Other than the natural drawcard of Auckland, the man-made environment also has much to offer. Take the lift up the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest building – The Sky Tower. Observe from behind huge windows on the observation deck or, for those seeking an adrenalin rush, do the Sky Jump or Sky Walk. The Sky Walk takes you on the same ledge that the U-20 players recently performed some keepie uppies.
To find out more about what there is to do in Auckland, see our Auckland backpacker guide.

Tourism NZ

Dunedin

This city is commonly known as the “university city” so you’re sure to find a place for a celebratory (or drown your sorrows) pint after the match. The Octagon, in the centre, is the main hub of the Dunedin nightlife where you’ll find a mix of classic pubs to cocktail bars.
It won’t take you long to see how the buildings in Dunedin are different from any other city in New Zealand. The Gothic architecture is a sign of the wealth that Dunedin experienced during the gold rush in Otago, as Dunedin had the closest port to export the goods! Good photo opportunities can be found at the Railway Station in central Dunedin, and Larnach Castle at Company Bay.
Get your wildlife fix at the nearby Otago Peninsula. Penguins, seals, sea lions, royal albatross and tons of species of wading birds call this peninsula home. Many of the species are either very rare or native to New Zealand so this could be your only chance to see these magnificent creatures.

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New Plymouth

The Taranaki town is the perfect place for those who love the mountains and the sea. On one side of New Plymouth there is the stunning coastal area well known for its epic surf. For those who may feel it is getting a little chilly for the water, you can appreciate the coast from the renowned Coastal Walkway. Some of New Plymouth’s contemporary artwork is showcased along the walkway, such as the kinetic Wind Wand and the Te Rewa Rewa bridge.

On the other side, Mt Taranaki, a perfectly coned volcano in the heart of the Egmont National Park. Of course, like all national parks in New Zealand, there are some fantastic hiking (or tramping as New Zealanders say) opportunities. Getting to the national park is easy from New Plymouth with the shuttle services.

After a hard day’s watching the football, choose to relax in Pukekura Park and Brooklands Park or head down Devon Street for the bustling nightlife.  or or    

BackpackerGuide.NZ

Whangarei

The north-most city in New Zealand is an excellent city choice in the U-20 World Cup 2015 for those on a budget. Many of the highlights are free or cheap, whether its visiting a quirky museum of something you didn’t realise could be a museum – the National Clock Museum – or enjoying natural features like Whangarei Falls and Mt Parihaka. Mt Parihaka was once a Maori pa site, which is a fortified area, but today people enjoy it for the hiking and mountain bike trails.

Don’t miss the forest walks that the Northland region is famous for: the kauri forests. These trees are the one of the largest and longest-living in the world. You can see them in the AH Reed Kauri Park as you walk to Whangarei Falls.

BackpackerGuide.NZ

Hamilton

Situated on the mighty Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest river at 425km, Hamilton is the main hub for the Waikato region. Not only  is the city going to to be bustling for the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2015, but it is the ideal base for some of New Zealand’s must-do activities. We’re talking about the village of Hobbiton in Matamata and the impressive glowworm caves in Waitomo. View from the safety of a viewing platform or get stuck into it by abseiling, caving and tubing through the extensive cave network. After all, New Zealand is the country of adventure and adrenalin.

Before you venture off into the caves, stick around the city to do the 11km Waikato River walkway. Great food and coffee can be found on Hood Street. And when the game’s over, take a peaceful walk through the five themed displays in the award-winning Hamilton Gardens.

Tourism NZ

Wellington

New Zealand’s vibrant capital city has a central location at the southern tip of the North Island. It is well known for its artwork scattered all over the city. Keep your eyes peeled when you are walking along the waterfront, as there are sculptures and quotes etched into unusual places. Wellington has also got the nickname “Wellywood” and rightfully so as it is the home of the Weta Workshop, the team behind the special effects of many blockbuster movies including The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

Your dose of Middle Earth will continue as you hike up Mt Victoria – a Lord of the Rings filming location and one of the best vantage points in the city.

While you are in the capital city, you might as well learn about the nation in the acclaimed Te Papa Museum. Often described as the best museum in New Zealand, it has tons of interactive displays on New Zealand’s history and achievements. And if you have ever wanted to see a colossal squid, then this would be the place to do so.

BackpackerGuide.NZ

Christchurch

Christchurch is only place on the South Island that the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2015 is taking place, so make the most of it! The South Island is so diverse with the whole Southern Alps stretching down the centre. If you get the chance to venture to them while in Christchurch, do so!

The city itself has been recovering from earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 so there is the opportunity to learn more about how the city dealt with the natural disaster. The Quake City museum is a great resource for this with displays and stories from quake survivors. It has a central location in the re:START mall. A mall where each shop, cafe and bank are in shipping containers, re:START is a fun environment worth checking out. Nearby are the huge Botanic Gardens – a good place to chill out after exploring the city or being on your feet throughout an intense football match!

Want more about the New Zealand FIFA U-20 World Cup 2015?

Then Backpackerguide.nz is the place for it.

We may know a thing or two about travelling on a budget in New Zealand, so have a browse to make the perfect itinerary while you are here in the “land of the long white cloud”. Here’s a good place to start for you footy fans: 7 City Hosts of the New Zealand FIFA U-20 World Cup 2015.

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