Lonely Planet Writer

New Zealand hopes to entice tourists with immersive All Blacks rugby experience


New Zealand is hoping that one of its most famous exports could become one of the country’s biggest tourist attractions.

All Blacks do the Haka during the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
All Blacks do the Haka during the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The opening of a new visitor centre – celebrating the famous All Black rugby team – is set to open late 2017 in Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour area. The plan is backed by the New Zealand government and tourism bodies and is planned to be an interactive and immersive, which will last 70 minutes per visit. Members – and past players – from famous All Black teams will feature in videos and other attractions telling famous rugby stories, not least about the team’s two recent World Cup wins.

Auckland. Image by Mike Mackinven

The plan is from a company called Discovery Partners, a small New Zealand company that already run stadium tours for the Manchester City football club. Their research reckons that visitors will be one third from Auckland, one third from the rest of New Zealand, and the remainder from the rest of the world. However, they’re hoping to build the international audience, and think that the All Blacks name has star power throughout the world, even in countries where rugby is not a major sport.

The attraction will be split up into several zones, starting with an historic area about rugby, local tribes and Maori influences. After that, visitors will be able to sit in a seat chosen by their favourite player at the home of All Black rugby Eden Park and get a run-through on their pre-match preparation. Other zones will include places where tourists can practice their passing and kicking, with recorded advice from the likes of Dan Carter and Sonny Bill Williams. Experience All Blacks said that was not going to be a traditional museum.

They said: “Visitors won’t just get an insight into the country. Once they step inside, they will become part of one of the most immersive and engaging experiences of its kind. They’ll get an insight into the tactics and challenges of the game, the passion and determination that drives the team, and the power and meaning of the Haka [pre-match traditional war dance]. They’ll even get to test their skill and strength against the All Blacks team.”