Sport can really put you in the mood to travel to the home countries of other teams. With the All Blacks playing the Springboks this week, South Africa is top of mind.
Experience the multicultural diversity of the Rainbow Nation through food, drink and books, and via the up close and personal African wildlife thrills of an online safari.
Where to go in South Africa
While the All Blacks are taking on the Springboks on September 25 and October 2 – albeit just across the Tasman in Queensland – start planning for future travels to South Africa. Johannesburg, the republic's biggest city and economic capital, draws diverse communities from across the southern part of the continent and is a vibrant and compelling urban destination. Street food and art and design from Angola, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe are all showcased at Sunday morning's Market on Main in the hip Maboneng Precinct, while travelling foodies should also check out the dining scene around the Johannesburg suburb of Melville, especially the pop-up restaurants and night markets of the 27 Boxes container development.
After a few days in "Jozi", depart for Kruger National Park near the border of Mozambique for some of Africa's best-value safari experiences. For a real-time online safari, check out WildEarth (www.wildearth.tv) for unfiltered wildlife action from top game parks and private reserves across South Africa and Kenya. Previous days' live-streamed safaris are archived on WildEarth's YouTube channel, and authoritative commentary from the parks' safari guides make it like being there in person.
What to watch
Continue a southern African wildlife theme by watching Sir David Attenborough's Our Planet series on Netflix. The From Deserts to Grasslands episode focuses on the endangered desert-adapted elephants of Damaraland in nearby Namibia, while elemental stand-offs between cheetahs and wildebeest feature amid the grassy expanses of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
For an insight into South African culture and cuisine, watch the second series of Gordon Ramsay Uncharted, available on Disney+, and showcasing the Scottish chef travelling the country to cook for a Zulu high chief. Back on Netflix, US writer and comedian Phil Rosenthal visits Cape Town in the second series of Somebody Feed Phil, visiting the colourful Bo-Kaap Cape-Malay neighbourhood, exploring the coastal city's artisan coffee scene, and meeting Nelson Mandela's grandson.
What to read about South Africa
Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom (1995) is the great statesman's moving and influential autobiography, and the 2014 film version starring Idris Elba as Mandela is available on both Google Play and Apple's iTunes. Invictus: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation (2008) by John Carlin is about how 1995's Rugby World Cup in South Africa brought together the country after its first free election, and the 2009 film version of the excellent book – this time featuring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela – is also available on Google Play and iTunes.
For a deeply personal but also very funny account of what it was like growing up under the system of apartheid, read Born a Crime (2016) by South African comedian and the current host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah.
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What to eat to experience South Africa
Courtesy of the many South African migrants to New Zealand, it's easy to recreate the flavours of the country here. The South African Shop in the eastern Auckland suburb of Howick is a good source of ingredients and foods, including biltong (nourishing air-dried slices of meat), and spicy boerewors (traditional sausage), ideal for recreating a traditional South African braai on your barbecue. Also available are sweeter treats including koeksisters, deep-fried plaits of dough dipped in syrup. Order online for home delivery at southafricanshop.net.nz. Post-lockdown, visit the Klasiq Kitchen in Auckland's Panmure for traditional bunny chow, a pillowy half-loaf of white bread filled with a spicy chicken or lamb curry.
What to drink
Gin and tonic is the quintessential drink while on a southern African safari, best enjoyed as a sundowner as the sun sets behind a glade of spiny acacia trees. Craft South African gin from the West Cape's ClemenGold distillery is available from Fine Wine Delivery, while Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington has an excellent range of South African wines, including top drops from the Stellenbosch region. For a range of braai-ready tipples, South Africa's easy-drinking Castle lager and Savanna cider are both available in New Zealand from Biltong Plus in Wellsford. They ship items around the country, and are also a good source of other South African foods and specialities.