Lonely Planet Writer

Rugby's Lions Tour to be huge draw for UK and Irish visitors to New Zealand

It may still be 15 months away, but already tickets for next year’s British and Irish Lions Rugby Tour to New Zealand are selling like hot-cakes.

British and Irish Lions rugby ball from 2005 NZ tour.
British and Irish Lions rugby ball from 2005 NZ tour. Image by Hamish / CC BY-SA 2.0

Demand from travelling fans for the unique six-week tournament has been so high that one official agent has sold out of its ticket package allocation within a week of going on sale. Tourism New Zealand reports that the company is on a quest to source additional tickets so they can meet the significant interest levels shown in Britain and Ireland for the upcoming tour in June 2017.

Lions tours are always well supported with up to 20,000 fans travelling at various times to New Zealand during the tour. The bulk of the travelling party will be sourced in the UK where an estimated 15,000 supporters will embark on the journey Down Under. Provincial and test games will be played in seven different regions across the host country.

Kevin Bowler, Tourism New Zealand’s chief executive believes the rugby tour also gives New Zealand a unique opportunity to showcase the country as a holiday destination. He said that with all the landscapes and activities within reach, the fans who come primarily for the rugby get to experience much, much more.

The tour kicks-off in Whangarei where the whole Bay of Islands experience is available to the travelling thousands. Supporters will travel through both islands before finishing up in Dunedin where they can experience the magnificent South Island scenery.

Mr Bowler said that the winter tour is a perfect chance to boost European visitor numbers to the country outside of the traditional Kiwi summer season. Mindful that the tour only comes around every 12 years, it is important that New Zealand gets behind the venture to welcome fans and give them a memorable experience, he added.