An estimated 100,000 sporting fans have descended on Auckland for celebrations as The Rugby World Cup opening ceremony got under way today in New Zealand,
New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key described the occasion as ‘the biggest event his country has ever staged.’
Celebrations that took place during ‘the journey’ themed opening ceremony included a spectacular waterfront firework display and traditional dancing by Maori warriors.
The first match between the All Blacks and Tonga then kicked off at Eden Park, with final score at 41-10 to the All Blacks.
Matches will take place across the country, from Auckland and Wellington to New Plymouth and the North Shore for the next 6 weeks. Christchurch, which was hit by a devastating earthquake that killed 181 people earlier this year will not play host to any games due to damaged areas.
The Real New Zealand Festival - a nationwide series of events showcasing the best of Kiwi food, wine, culture, heritage, sports and nature will take place along side the World Cup, aiming to give visitors a truly authentic experience of the country.
The six-week World Cup event is the first in New Zealand since the inaugural tournament in1987 - the last time the All Blacks won the title.
Foreign Office calls on rugby fans to take care while travelling
The Foreign Office has advised fans to be on the ball at the Rugby World Cup, with rugby fans and visitors being warned to take extra care on the roads during. Statistics indicate that New Zealand has more than twice the number of road crash fatalities per 100,000 people as the UK.
The Foreign Office has provided a number of tips for driving in New Zealand, including being careful at night and preparing for long distances between service stations in rural areas.
Minister for Consular Affairs Jeremy Browne offered advice to British fans intending to visit: “British supporters should prepare for their trip to New Zealand in the same way to ensure they enjoy a trouble-free Rugby World Cup.”
He added: “Whether fans are planning on taking part in adrenalin sports or hiring a vehicle for a road trip, I strongly recommend that they check the small print of their travel insurance to ensure they are covered for everything they want to do. And people driving long distances should plan their journey carefully, including regular breaks, to avoid accidents.”
The Foreign Office has been working with the Rugby Football Union, the Scottish Rugby Union and the Welsh Rugby Union to help encourage fans to be fully prepared so they can enjoy the tournament as much as possible. Travel advice is available at airports as well through a number of travel companies and other FCO partners.
Welsh rugby coach Warren Gatland, who is from New Zealand, is well aware of the support his team will have during the tournament. He said:
“As always, Wales will have strong support in the stands, particularly in Wellington for our first match. Let’s hope that the fans enjoy their time here and go home with great memories of rugby rather than huge medical bills.”
He added: “New Zealand is a beautiful but vast country – it’s really easy to underestimate how long journeys can take so I’d encourage people to allow plenty of time to get to matches so you don’t miss a minute of the rugby or take risks on the roads!”
For mobile guides of Rugby World Cup host cities accross New Zealand, visit the city.mobi collection of city guides including: hamilton.nz.city.mobi, and wellington.mobi and auckland.mobi.
Here you will be able to find information on the latest attractions, restaurants, accommodation and nightlife in major cities.