All Blacks set to be immortalised in new tourist attraction on Auckland waterfront
The All Blacks are set to be immortalised in a new tourist attraction on Auckland's waterfront but not all their secrets will be revealed.
The focus right now might be on the World Cup which gets underway in England next month but from 2017, the All Black Experience, set to open in Wynyard Quarter, will give visitors a rare insight into New Zealand rugby through a 3D interactive attraction that will open in time for the influx of tourists from the British and Irish Lions tour and World Masters Games.
Former All Blacks lock Ian Jones was on hand to endorse the attraction, which is expected to feature a tribute to Richie McCaw, who will surpass Irish great Brian O'Driscoll as the most capped player in test history this weekend, along with a host of others. Other features of the project will include the chance to throw into a simulated All Black lineout and test your skills under pressure.
Jones also stressed the importance of not giving away all the traditions and state secrets that helped the All Blacks become such a successful team.
NZR chief executive Steve Tew was reluctant to reveal figures around what the joint-venture project would cost, but part of the push to capitalise on New Zealand's three million tourists per-year was based around diversifying income and moving away from a reliance on broadcasting deals.
"Clearly there's some commercial sensitivities around that," Tew said. "This is a bit of a departure for us, we haven't got a lot of capital investment in enterprises such as this.
"We've done some very serious due diligence. We believe this is a very sound investment of New Zealand Rugby's money and will pay dividends; cash, brand and other things in a relatively short period of time.
"We're not going to disclose the actual costs but comfortable to put our hand on our heart and say it's a good investment on behalf of people that play our game in this country."
Tew said the attraction would be a place to celebrate New Zealand's rugby heritage, achievements and culture and hoped it would help inspire the next generation, particularly teenagers in Auckland where numbers have slipped in recent times.
"This is will be a special place to enjoy a hands-on, fully interactive experience of New Zealand rugby; a place to celebrate the successes of all our national teams; a place to be inspired and learn more about what it takes to succeed at the highest levels of the game."
Tew said many tourists would never get a chance to see an All Blacks game, "but most know the black jersey and the haka". The new experience would allow people to get up close with "these great symbols of our country".