Auckland packed as events weekend starts

Last updated 10:08 15/02/2014
DANIEL GALVIN/Fairfax NZ

The Lantern Festival is one of the many events on in Auckland this weekend.

Warriors fan Junior Konakava during the launch of the Rugby League Nines held at Aotea Square, Auckland.
Chris Skelton Zoom
Warriors fan Junior Konakava during the launch of the Rugby League Nines held at Aotea Square, Auckland.

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It's the biggest weekend in New Zealand's biggest city since that big ol' sporting tournament, the Rugby World Cup, was in town three years ago.

Tens of thousands of people are going to lots of events and, it seems, there is something for everyone.

A sports type?

Then you will likely be heading to the inaugural event of the NRL Auckland Nines.

You certainly won't be alone. The event, which has seen all 16 NRL clubs compete for a more than $2 million prize pool, has attracted sell out crowds of 46,000 people -  including 6000 from over the ditch, and 18,000 from elsewhere in New Zealand.

Follow all the action on Stuff's NRL Auckland Nines live blog here.

A muso? Spoilt for choice.

Splore - a biennial festival held in Tapapakanga Regional Park in Southeast Auckland started on Friday and runs until Sunday. It's the 10th time it has been held, attracting thousands of people to the golden sands of the regional park, making it one of the longest running outdoor festivals in the country.

If that's not your scene then Rapture might be - 55,000 people are going to Western Springs tonight.

The concert sees big names Eminem, Action Bronson and J Cole mixing it with local rapper David Dallas. A group that won't be there is Odd Future after they were banned from the country by Immigration New Zealand who said the group posed a threat to public order.

More family orientated?

Then perhaps the lantern festival might be more your scene. Tens of thousands of people pack out central Auckland's Albert Park (and this year also Queen's Wharf) to pose with lanterns and sample a variety of food.

It's held on the full moon weekend after Chinese New Year, and just happens, this year, to fall at the busiest weekend for Auckland in three years.

There are also at least two cruise ships visiting the city's shores this weekend to add to the mix.

Rachael Carroll, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development general manager marketing, said hotels, motels and other accommodation providers around the city were full to bursting for the weekend.

For one of the first times since the world cup the council's major events operation centre has been reopened for the weekend so transport, police and safety operators can gather in one hub and keep an eye on crowds.

Extra transport had been organised for the major events and a walkway ''fan trail'' was established between Eden Park and Western Springs for last night revellers.

Police have been preparing for nearly a year.

Inspector Peter Gibson said Auckland City's planning and operations group had been working on arrangements for the nines, Eminem and lantern festival crossover for the better part of 10 months.

It was, Carroll said, a ''huge influx of visitors coming into the city'' and certainly not a normal weekend.

''Auckland is full whether it is a hotel, whether it is Eden Park, whether it is Western Springs.''

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