Ngāi Tahu partners with NZ Rugby for All Blacks tour experience

By Jessica Tyson

South Island iwi Ngāi Tahu has partnered with NZ Rugby to construct a tourism venture, the All Blacks Experience.

The venture in Auckland will guide visitors through a state-of-the-art showcase of the All Blacks, Black Ferns, and other national rugby teams in black.

The centrepiece of the tour will give visitors the chance to stand in the middle of the field in a stadium packed with fans, and come face-to-face with a four-metre-high haka.

It also includes first-hand stories from legends of the game, plus a chance to try out kicking, catching and lineout skills against All Blacks and Black Ferns in the hands-on interactive zone.

All Blacks Experience board chair Dame Julie Christie says the venture will open to the public in time for the 2020-21 summer holiday season.

“There is a real sense of excitement and anticipation building because the experience is so unique. New Zealand Rugby began this journey seven years ago and to see it now coming to fruition is amazing.”

Construction is nearly complete, with the final phases on track for the opening despite recent Covid-19 alert level restrictions.

“We can already see what the final space is going to look like and how visitors are going to interact with it and be moved by it, as they come to understand what rugby means to the people and the players in this country.”

Dame Julie says recruitment is currently under way for key roles to join the team.

“We are delighted to be in a position to create these jobs in Tāmaki Makaurau, with opportunities now available for all ages. This is another positive step forward for the tourism industry as we collectively adapt to the challenges created by Covid-19. The All Blacks Experience is excited to be at the forefront of this.”

The All Blacks Experience will begin welcoming manuhiri (visitors) from December 2.