It goes without saying that rugby is at the heart of New Zealand’s culture, and experiencing live rugby games around the country is a surefire way of immersing yourself in that culture. In this article, we’ll take a look at the best places to watch rugby in New Zealand, giving you insights into everything you need to know to make the most out of your rugby experience.
Unveiling the Gems: Iconic Rugby Grounds in New Zealand
New Zealand boasts a rich history of rugby, and its grounds and stadiums hold a special place in the hearts of fans. Here are some noteworthy rugby venues with fascinating histories and intriguing facts:
Botanical Gardens, Nelson – The Birthplace of New Zealand Rugby
The Botanical Gardens in Nelson played host to the nation’s first official rugby game in 1870. This historic ground carries the legacy of rugby’s inception in New Zealand, making it a must-visit for any rugby enthusiast, or those wondering, what is Super Rugby actually?
Trafalgar Park, Nelson – A Unique Eco-Friendly Pitch
Innovation meets sports at Trafalgar Park, featuring an eco-friendly pitch made from recycled glass to mimic sand. It’s a testament to New Zealand’s commitment to sustainability while providing an exceptional venue for thrilling rugby encounters.
Mangatainoka, Wairarapa – Where Grassroots Rugby Thrives
For an authentic grassroots rugby experience, head to Mangatainoka in Wairarapa. This ground has earned a reputation for nurturing and showcasing some of New Zealand’s finest talents, making it a perfect destination for fans seeking raw passion and dedication.
Rotorua International Stadium – A Geothermal Rugby Retreat
After cheering on your favourite teams at Rotorua International Stadium, relax and rejuvenate in natural hot pools unique to this geothermal hotspot. It’s an unparalleled combination of thrilling rugby action and soothing natural wonders.
Rugby Park, Hamilton – The Home of Cowbell Chants
Known affectionately as Mooloo Stadium, Rugby Park in Hamilton is famous for its lively crowd that echoes with the sounds of swinging cowbells. Join the passionate fans here for an unforgettable rugby experience.
Upper Clutha Rugby Club, Wanaka – Where Nature Meets Rugby
Nestled amidst breathtaking scenery, the Upper Clutha Rugby Club in Wanaka boasts the title of the most scenic rugby field in New Zealand. Immerse yourself in the captivating views while witnessing exhilarating rugby clashes.
Embracing the Grandeur: New Zealand’s Premier Rugby Stadiums
While experiencing rugby on historic grounds is a treat, attending matches at the country’s premier stadiums adds a new dimension of excitement. Let’s delve into some of the most iconic rugby arenas in New Zealand:
Eden Park (Auckland) – A Colossal Sporting Mecca
Eden Park stands tall as New Zealand’s largest rugby and cricket stadium, with a massive capacity of 50,000 people. Having hosted the 1987 and 2011 Rugby World Cup finals and two cricket world cups, this venue is synonymous with sporting history.
Tips for Attending Eden Park Matches:
- Ticket Prices: National games usually range from NZ$20 to NZ$30 per person, while international matches may cost between NZ$60 and NZ$150, depending on seating choices.
- Getting There: Considering changing parking restrictions on game days, taking the train to Kingsland station or using free bus services with a game ticket is recommended.
Yarrow Stadium (New Plymouth) – An Enchanting Rugby Retreat
The beloved Yarrow Stadium, also known as Stadium Taranaki, is a fan-favourite in New Zealand. With the stunning backdrop of Mount Taranaki, this stadium offers a truly magical setting for rugby matches.
Tips for Attending Yarrow Stadium Matches:
- Accessibility: Easily reach Yarrow Stadium by a 5-10 minute drive or a 30-minute walk from New Plymouth’s city centre. For small events, on-street parking and a stadium car park are available.
Forsyth Barr Stadium (Dunedin) – A Weatherproof Rugby Haven
The Forsyth Barr Stadium stands tall with its transparent roof, ensuring that rugby enthusiasts can enjoy matches regardless of the weather. Hosting a variety of sports events and music concerts, this all-weather stadium is a hub of entertainment.
Tips for Attending Forsyth Barr Stadium Matches:
- Ticket Prices: International games typically range from NZ$40 to NZ$275, while national matches cost around NZ$30 to NZ$40.
- Access Options: Reach the stadium via an easy 20-minute walk from Dunedin’s city centre or use major bus services that stop at the stadium.
Westpac Stadium (Wellington) – The Capital’s Rugby Haven
As the capital’s premier rugby stadium, Westpac Stadium in Wellington welcomes scores of international and national rugby games. Besides cheering for your favourite teams, take advantage of stadium tours and exciting expos hosted here regularly.
Tips for Attending Westpac Stadium Matches:
- Ticket Prices: National games are generally priced between NZ$20 and NZ$60, while international matches range from NZ$70 to NZ$120.
- Convenient Location: Easily access the stadium by walking along the 650-meter elevated walkway from Wellington Railway Station or the short distance from the city centre.
AMI Stadium (Christchurch) – The Heart of Canterbury Rugby
The revered AMI Stadium, the home of the Canterbury Crusaders, presents an opportunity to witness national games and exciting matches against Australia’s national teams. It’s a rugby haven that captivates fans with every weekend’s thrilling encounters.
Tips for Attending AMI Stadium Matches:
- Ticket Prices: Game tickets typically range from NZ$20 to NZ$50, depending on seating preferences.
- Parking and Transportation: As parking is limited for significant events, opt for park-and-ride shuttles from various locations in the city or enjoy a scenic 30-40 minute walk from the city centre.
Sports Bars: A Budget-Friendly Rugby Experience
For those seeking a vibrant atmosphere and camaraderie with fellow rugby fans without the need for game tickets, New Zealand’s sports bars offer the perfect solution. From national to international games, these bars have multiple screens dedicated to showcasing thrilling rugby clashes. It’s an excellent opportunity to save some backpacker dollars while revelling in the team spirit.