The Rugby World Cup 2011 is being held in New Zealand! With an estimated 1.6 million ticket sales (compared with a population just over 4 million), it’s going to be a huge event for New Zealand.

To listen to our accommodation and transport planning advice, as well as things to do in each of the centres hosting world cup games, hit play below or find episode 201 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

If you are travelling in New Zealand in September and October this year, you can expect an awesome party atmosphere, but things will be much busier than your guidebooks claim during this season. Even if you’re not following a team around, it’s best to take heed of the advice below.


Accommodation options are filling up fast, so if you want to be centrally located for a fair price, it’s best to start looking and booking right now.

The cheapest accommodation options will be combining your own vehicle or a campervan with Department of Conservation (DOC) campsites. Private campsites are also available, and normally offer better amenities at a higher price.

Hostelling is well established in New Zealand, with many hostels in cities and also in interesting out-of-the-way places. Many hotels are increasing their prices to suit market demand during September and October … so be careful when booking.

mountain house hostel arthurs pass new zealand
The 'Mountain House' hostel


There are several tour packages being put together by Intercity Buses which will follow the teams around from city to city. Also, hop-on, hop-off bus passes are available from Intercity or specialist travel companies like Stray.

Car and campervan hire is still available from many companies, but do take a look at the unorthodox Spaceships campers, which are excellent for New Zealand driving conditions.

spaceship in st heliers beach auckland new zealand
Spaceships are great for travel in New Zealand

Host Cities for the Rugby World Cup 2011


New Zealand’s biggest city is hosting the opening match, in addition to the two semi-finals and the grand final. Needless to say, this place is going to be party central with the waterfront and Kingsland expected to see much of the action. Discover Auckland with our free Auckland city audio guide.

Auckland city from the water
Auckland City from the ferry crossing between Devonport and downtown


A large rural city on the banks of the Waikato River. Hamilton has a surprisingly good restaurant and café culture for its size. The large botanical gardens are worth a wander on a fine day.


New Zealand’s capital city Wellington is a compact harbour city, with much of the World Cup action expected to flow from the stadium, along the waterfront, and into the CBD. Make sure you use the cable cars to get a great view of the city and the water.

wellington new zealand arial shot
Wellington, New Zealand's compact capital, from the air


The northernmost host city is the gateway to Northland, allowing you to explore sparsely populated beaches and ancient forest ecosystems.


There’s plenty of lakeside activities (and if the trout at Turangi are firing late, some wonderful catches to be made) in Rotorua. Known as “Rotovegas” for its selection of day spas, hotels and its popularity as a wedding venue, be sure to make the most of it. Lots of adventure sports in spots around the city, and some of the most beautiful geothermal parks in the world.


This east coast city is best known for its art deco buildings, but make sure you check out the coastline and gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers as well as the renowned Gimblett Gravels wine region, and surrounding wineries.

art deco building napier new zealand
An example of Art Deco in Napier, New Zealand

New Plymouth

You might be tempted to climb Mt Taranaki while you’re in its shadow, but don’t go too high without a guide. This is a serious mountain to climb! The coastal walk around New Plymouth is much safer for most rugby fans, or take up a historical walk for $10 from the i-Site (New Zealand’s official information centres).

Palmerston North

We must point out the New Zealand Rugby Museum since it’s World Cup time. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s the right place at the right time. If you like surfing or surf fishing, head to Akitio after you leave.


Because of the recent earthquakes, Christchurch has ‘lost’ its Rugby World Cup games. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit though. The people of Christchurch are still happy to welcome travellers.


Now the biggest South Island venue, Dunedin is a university city reminiscent of its namesake, Edinburgh. With wild and wonderful animals just out on the peninsula, this is a great place to see sealions, seals, albatross, penguins and — if you’re lucky — dolphins and whales along the coast. The Speights Brewery and Cadbury chocolate factory both offer popular (and tasty) tours.

wooden building in dunedin new zealand


At the top of the South Island, and the heart of the Marlborough wine region, Nelson is a coastal town an easy drive from the Interisland ferry terminals. There is some great accommodation in the dock area, just outside the town centre. Head back towards Renwick to rent a bike and tour some wineries.


New Zealand‘s southern-most city is also hosting the Rugby World Cup. The Southland museum and Queens Park are both worth visiting; head to Oreti beach for flat sands and the cold South Pacific waters; and visit Bluff to taste some of the best oysters on the planet.

A special thanks to James Rollestone from Spaceships New Zealand for his commentary on accommodation and transport during the Rugby World Cup.

For more information, see our New Zealand travel planning page. To listen, hit play above or check in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud.

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