Stadium: Eden Park
Location: Reimers Ave, Kingsland, Less than three-kilometres from Auckland’s CBD
New Zealand v Tonga (opening match), Friday September 9
Australia v Ireland, Saturday September 17
New Zealand v France, Saturday September 24
Fiji v Samoa, Sunday September 25
England v Scotland, Saturday October 1
Semi-final 1, Saturday October 15
Semi-final 2, Sunday October 16
Bronze Final, Friday October 21
Final, Sunday October 23
Stadium: Stadium Drive, Albany, North Shore
Location: Albany is 19-kilometres from Auckland city
Capacity: 30 000
France v Japan, Saturday September 10
Australia v Italy, Sunday September 11
South Africa v Namibia, Thursday September 22
South Africa v Samoa, Friday September 30
It’s no surprise that rugby-loving Kiwis have a soft spot for the stadium as the most famous moment in New Zealand rugby took place on June 20, 1987 at Eden Park when All Blacks skipper David Kirk lifted the William Webb Ellis trophy. It started out as a cricket venue, but it didn’t take too long for New Zealand’s favourite sport to nestle in between the Kingsland and Mount Eden suburbs. Home to the Auckland Rugby Union, the ground will have the distinction of being the first stadium to host two World Cup Finals when Rugby World Cup 2011 comes to a conclusion on October 23. Good luck to those taking on the All Blacks here as Fortress Eden Park would be an appropriate name. The host team’s record is pretty daunting and the last time they lost at the venue was in 1937. The only blip on their record is in 1994 when they drew 18-18 with South Africa. Not only will it host this year’s final, but also the opening game featuring the All Blacks and Tonga, the two semi-finals, third-place play-off and other group matches.
Across the city in the centre of Albany, which is about 19km from Auckland city, you have the multi-purpose North Harbour Stadium. Unlike Eden Park, it’s a relatively new ground. Since it’s opening in 1997 the stadium has hosted football, rugby league internationals and major international concerts. The first Test match was between the All Blacks and Fiji which the hosts won 71-5. In the other five internationals at the stadium, the All Blacks racked up massive scores against the likes of Samoa and Tonga.
The rest of the city:
Auckland usually features very high in the rankings for the top 10 best places to live in. It’s a diverse city with hot summers and mild winters, has spectacular scenery, lovely beaches and vibrant nightlife. What’s not to like? Situated on the North Island between the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours, Auckland is easily the most populous and cosmopolitan city in New Zealand. The Maori were the first to settle in 1350. After a steady influx of Europeans and the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, Auckland was chosen as New Zealand’s first capital in 1840. Over the years it has turned into one of the most diverse places around the globe and the population of 1.4 million is made up of more than 100 ethnicities.
Auckland isn’t New Zealand’s economic capital for nothing as most of the big corporates are based there. With beaches and idyllic islands close-by it is also often a playground for the rich and famous. But fear not if you don’t have a yacht to mix with the socialites as there’s plenty of other things to do on the cheap.
The mild climate, which sees day temperatures averaging between 16 and 18 °C during the World Cup months, means there’s always an opportunity to visit one of the many parks, nature reserves or the beaches.
Fun things to do and see:
Although there will still be a chill in the air as the southern hemisphere waves winter goodbye, you will probably spend most of your days around the beaches and harbour. You can also take a walk or hike through any of Auckland’s 25 Regional Parks or watch the dolphins and whales in the Hauraki Gulf.
If you’ve got time to kill and energy to expend, head to Great Barrier Island - an untouched, tranquil paradise which boasts stunning forests, amazing views, hotpools, kayaking, bird and marine life - the lot. Walks range from an hour to three days. It’s a day away from Auckland on a ferry, or 30 minutes on a plane.
There’s also the North Head historic walk with great views plus a military defence settlement - guns, tunnels etc. It takes one hour each way and you can get there via a 20 minute ferry ride from the centre of Auckland.
For those who are perhaps short on cash and like to enjoy the sound of nature at night then the camp site at Home Bay, Motutapu Island, is the place for you. It’s a stunning setting in a national reserve, an easy 25 minute ferry ride from the centre of Auckland and costs about $5 per night.
Where to quench your thirst and fill your belly:
With Eden Park within touching distance of the CBD, food, beer and entertainment are not far away before and after matches. If you have a day off you should definitely do a 10km wine tour through Waiheke Island, which is a short ferry ride from Auckland. Tours are also on offer in Matakana, which is about one hour’s drive north of the city, and Clevedon - about 30 minutes south of the city.
You be able to enjoy Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc. Of course the food is also high-quality. Most tours include free pick-up and drop-off from the city, ferry tickets (if you’re heading across the water), picnic platter/lunch.
On match days there’s always the Shakepseare Brewery and Hotel before or after games. The 110-year-old English style pub offers great food, a range of award winning beers (brewed on site that will impress even the most ardent beer drinker).
Getting there and around:
Auckland Airport, the busiest in New Zealand, is 21km outside the city centre. It caters for both domestic and international passengers.
Eden Park is less than four kilometres outside the CBD. If you’re heading there by foot, then you’ll probably make use of the dedicated walking route - or fan walk, if you like - to the stadium.
Besides using the bus, taxi or shuttle, you can also make use of the train with Kingsland Rail Station located across the stadium. You can travel the length of the North Island with ease as the rail network runs from Auckland down to Wellington.
The easiest way to get to North Harbour Stadium is by using public transport. Free buses will be available from various locations around Auckland for those with the golden tickets on match days.
If you’re getting there by car then take the Greville Rd exit from the Northern Motorway. Once you hit Albany centre you can park at the Northern Busway’s park and ride stations. There will also be dedicated park and ride options at Smales Farm, Westlake and Westgate Shopping Centre (Massey).