NZ Lions Tour: Hear the lions roar

NZ Lions Tour: Hear the lions roar

Image credit: Tourism New Zealand

As the Rugby World Cup whips fans into a frenzy, it’s time to tempt them to head to New Zealand for the 2017 Lions tour

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Today, Brits don’t have far to go to see the All Blacks play – their Rugby World Cup match kicks off in London’s Olympic Park tonight at 8pm.

But after the final on October 31, rugby fans may well start feeling withdrawal symptoms and begin considering where their next match is going to come from.

The good news is that they don’t need to wait for the next World Cup in 2019 for more top-class rugby. The British and Irish Lions – a team selected from the national sides of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales – will tour New Zealand in 2017.

We don’t know who will lift the trophy at this year’s World Cup, but the All Blacks won last time and entered this championship as favourites. This, and the fact the Lions tour in New Zealand only every 12 years, is likely to make Red Army fans even keener to see their team in action on Kiwi soil.

The 2005 series brought 20,000 Lions supporters to the country, and New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew says they are confident the 2017 series will exceed those figures.

The host cities will be Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua and Wellington in North Island, and Christchurch and Dunedin in South Island.

New Zealand Rugby and the British and Irish Lions have agreed a programme of 10 matches during their 2017 series, kicking off in Whangarei, in the far north, on June 3 and finishing in Auckland on July 8.

Westpac Stadium - Image credit: Tourism New Zealand
Image credit: Tourism New Zealand

The series will include three tests against the All Blacks – the first and final tests both at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, on June 24 and July 8 respectively, with the other in the capital of Wellington on July 1.

As with any sporting event, tickets will be available from all sorts of sources and agents should be wary of taking risks with who they buy from so as not to fall prey to scams.

Lions Rugby Travel is the official travel company for the British and Irish Lions, and will be creating, marketing and selling ticket-inclusive supporter packages later in the 2015-16 rugby season.

There will be a wide range of official ticket-inclusive packages available, from 48-night tours that take in all 10 fixtures and all corners of New Zealand, through to options for fans who want flexibility, with motorhome and ticket packages and flight and ticket packages being planned.

Agents who are interested in working with them can contact Louise Lee at Lions Rugby Travel on 01452 888629 or email

Venue highligts

What about when the Lions aren’t playing? Or for accompanying visitors with no interest in rugby? We look at tourist highlights near each stadium.

Whangarei: At the far north of North Island, Whangarei is convenient for the vast sand dunes of Ninety Mile Beach and Cape Reinga, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea.

Auckland: Nicknamed the City of Sails, much of the action revolves around the harbour, from bars and restaurants to boat tours and even bridge climbs and bungee jumps.

Auckland Bridge Climb - Image credit: Tourism New Zealand
Image credit: Tourism New Zealand

Hamilton, Waikato: Hamilton isn’t far from the spectacular Waitomo Caves where visitors take a boat ride through caverns lit with glow-worms.

Rotorua: A Maori cultural centre and area of geothermal activity, activities include hot springs, mud pools, erupting geysers and Maori-focused experiences.

Wellington: National museum Te Papa is well worth a visit, as is the cable-car ride up to the Botanic Gardens for great views. The capital is also known for its culinary and craft beer scenes.

Christchurch: The city is bouncing back from the 2011 earthquakes that damaged much of the centre, with shops and cafes in shipping containers and a temporary cardboard cathedral.

Dunedin: New Zealand’s oldest city has handsome historic buildings, a strong Scottish heritage and is near the wildlife-rich Otago peninsula, home to penguin colonies and albatross breeding grounds.

Ask an expert

Louise Lee, Lions Rugby Travel
“The Lions are a true touring team, and the success on and off the field in Australia in 2013 has created a phenomenal level of demand. Thousands of supporters are already registered to receive details of the official tour packages that will go on sale later in the 2015-16 rugby season.

“Some of the stadia in New Zealand have smaller capacities than those that hosted fixtures in Australia in 2013. Combine this with the volume of local supporters and the fact the Lions only travel to New Zealand once every 12 years, and demand will exceed supply, so fans will need to book as early as they can.”


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