All Blacks v France: Places to keep calm or party on

By Susan Edmunds

If you do not have tickets for Eden Park, there are still plenty of places to join the country in party mode. Susan Edmunds shares options to celebrate the RWC final.

All Blacks fans show their support. Photo / Natalie Slade
All Blacks fans show their support. Photo / Natalie Slade

Around the city

The Pacific Events Centre has been the place to be for vocal members of the Manu Samoa Supporters Club, and on the last night of the tournament, crowds are expected for pre-match entertainment from reggae band Katchafire before the game is screened. Grey Lynn is also getting into the Samoan spirit, with a fiafia (party) night tonight. Kiwi Express, a country rock band, is playing before the game tomorrow.

In Stanmore Bay, the East to West festival at Stanmore Bay Reserve runs from 3pm with thundercat racing, offshore Coastguard demonstrations, a junior surf carnival and trolley derby among daytime entertainment. There will be young entertainers on stage from 5pm until the rugby kicks off on the big screen.

In Warkworth and Matakana, the Kowhai Festival has been running over the entire month, showcasing local art, food and music.

There are oysters and wine at Heron's Flight vineyard tomorrow and then a rugby gala night at the Warkworth RSA.

Check out the Waiheke Island Jazz in the Vines festival, running at Goldie Vineyard and Stefano's Pizzeria, Ostend and Surfdale. The festival is on over the whole weekend but the final will screen at a jazz dinner tomorrow night.

Wander down to your local rugby club: Ponsonby Rugby Club is promising "lots of hilarity" as well as the game live on the big screen, and lots of food and drink. There is no cover charge. On the other side of the city, the Papakura Rugby Club is running a three-course dinner event with its game screening. Officially it's for members only but the club will throw in a heavily discounted membership with tickets bought for the dinner. The Pakuranga United Rugby Club has a festival site set up in its gym with seating and two screens, as well as some live entertainment. It's an alcohol-free zone and entry is free. In the clubrooms, there is a grandstand with a 150-inch screen and surround sound. Tickets are $50 and include entry, a meal and a band. Non-members are welcome and will get club members' discounts on alcohol.

Watching with the enemy

Most All Blacks fans will consider this game their chance to get some revenge for the French assassination of New Zealand in the last Rugby World Cup. But you have to hand it to them: the French know about good food, wine and fun. If you feel like infiltrating enemy camps for the night, there are lots of options around the city.

Takapuna adopted France as its second team and is planning a street party on Sunday night. Welsh acoustic duo Pat for President are playing on Hurstmere Rd, outside the pub strip that includes the Elephant Wrestler. There will be screens on the outside of the bars. Local publican Kevin Schwass says: "For my sins, I have been fortunate to have travelled to every World Cup since its inception in 1987 - what we are trying to do seemed to be extremely popular in France, and as a consequence we wanted to provide those without tickets or those travelling to and returning from the games, a genuine rugby atmosphere." The Belgian Beer Cafe, Florrie McGreal's Irish Pub and the Hurstmere Road Brew Bar all have an extended licence until 3am on Monday.

For a really authentic French experience, book in for dinner at Pastis, on Victoria St, Auckland City. The game will be screened live and there are two food options: A menu "Serge Blanco" for $49.50, which includes three courses and a drink, or a menu "Parc des Princes", of two courses and a drink, for $39.50.

Alliance Francaise d'Auckland members will be at the Belgian Beer Cafe in Ponsonby to watch the game.

Further afield

Celebrate the final with an old-fashioned Kiwi road trip. If you are heading north, the Mangawhai Tavern is screening the game. Groups that book in will get a free platter at half-time. Further north, there's a community breakfast tomorrow at the Paihia Village Green, after which you could head to the town's 35 Degrees South Aquarium Restaurant, which is hosting an eight-day food and rugby festival culminating tomorrow.

Or get some history with your rugby: the country's oldest pub, the Duke of Marlborough in Russell, is offering Rugby by the Sea. There will be one screen in the bar and two on the main deck, as well as a grandstand set up with a projector. There is no cover charge.

Money no object?

If you are happy to spend a bit more on the occasion, there are some luxury options available. Take in the game in style at the Viaduct Club Private Viewing Lounge at the Floating Pavillion. Tickets range from $90 to $200 and include a drink on arrival and finger-food.

Head out on to the water for a Rugby Grand Final cruise on the Olympic Spirit, run by Amada Cruises. A three-and-a-half hour cruise on the multilevel catamaran costs $55. This event is R18.

The historic Mercury Theatre is screening the game and is promising all the luxury of a corporate box. From $595, including complimentary food and drink.

Head south to the Pig and Whistle in Rotorua - six big screens there will show the game in high definition, with food and drink available. A spokesman says the pub has My Sky, so games could be shown simultaneously during the tournament.

Bars

Don't just settle for any bar with a big screen. The most obvious choice for the final is the Kingslander. From the bar, you can see Eden Park and punters there can expect to be joined by fans from the stadium before and after the match. For the day of the final, there will be extra bars open, live music, seven plasma screens and four projectors. There is no door charge. A spokesman says: "It's the total sport-watching experience within a stone's throw of the venue."

At Sky City, the tower will be lit up as the country's biggest scoreboard and the game will be on screens throughout the complex. Their new sports bar, The Nation's Clubrooms has 20 - count 'em - screens, and has been home to some of the country's rugby greats such as Frank Bunce, Eric Rush and Christian Cullen during the tournament. Watch out for other famous faces tomorrow night.

The Kings Arms in Newton is running a Rugby World Cup final party. It's $10 after 8pm and $5 before, with ska, reggae and dub bands playing. The Dog's Bollix in Newton is another pub worth a visit: it's on the fan trail, so the atmosphere is electric.

For a different pace, head to the historic tavern in Riverhead. All the games have been played on a screen in the Portage Bar, which has been completely full every night. Staff are expecting another packed house tomorrow night and the bar will be decorated in theme. "It's full-on, with a great atmosphere," a spokeswoman says.

Fan zones

The fan zones have been the place to be throughout the tournament, and that steps up a notch for the final game. All of the fan zones offer big screens, live music and the kind of atmosphere you would usually have to be inside the gates of a stadium for. For the most up-to-date venue information check today's Events Guide in the Weekend Herald or browse the Herald site.

CBD
The biggest fan zone is on the waterfront of Auckland's CBD. The Queens Wharf spot has been popular throughout the tournament and is now extended to Captain Cook Wharf and the Wynyard Quarter, with spill-over zones at Marsden Wharf and Aotea Square. On the main stage for the final night of the Cup will be Gin Wigmore, Avalanche City, The Checks and Kids of 88. While you are there, check out New Zealand On Screen, the Real NZ showcase or Taste at the Cloud.

West
The Trusts Stadium in Waitakere has been used as a training venue throughout the Cup but has also been home to the Outrageously West Fan Zone. From 7pm, the Black Seeds take the stage before the game kicks off at 9pm.

North Shore
The Northern Lights Fan Zone, at the Albany Lakes, caters for 10,000 fans, with two big screens. For the final night, the headline act is Ladi6, from 7.30pm.

South
The Southern Seas Fan Zone in Mangere Town Centre is the most family-friendly venue - it is completely alcohol-free and there is a focus on family and kids' activities. King Kapisi and a Hawaiian fire knife group are set for the final night.

And to calm your nerves on Saturday ...

The Topp Twins Country Hoe-Down Concert of the Year - today, 4pm-5.30pm, Queens Wharf
You can only laugh when the Topp Twins Country Hoe-Down Concert of the Year brings the cream of contemporary alt-country and bluegrass artists - the legendary Hamilton County Bluegrass Band, Tami Neilson, and our next Keith Urban, Cameron Luxton. If you need to get rid of some tension, there's nothing like wielding an axe: second best is watching the country's best axemen duke it out against the Aussies in today's ANZAXE Competition (11.45am-3.00pm Main Stage Forecourt, Queens Wharf)

Great Kiwi music on the Main Stage runs during the day.

Auckland Racing Club's Rugby Meets the RaceDay - Ellerslie Racecourse, Gate open 11am, racing starts 12.20 till evening. Free entry kids, adults $10.
Build up your adrenalin with Kiwi's "other religion" at the Auckland Racing Club's Rugby Meets the RaceDay.

A city full of sports fans from all over New Zealand and the world can scream their lungs out at a paddock full of thoroughbreds on Saturday - 10 times. Bring a picnic, indulge in the hospitality and test out your betting muscles with a flutter or two on some top-class racing action. Go in the draw to win a trip for two to the 2012 Cox Plate (including flights, accommodation, airport/event transfers and an invite to an official event).

Taste of New Zealand
If comfort eating is your solace, Taste of New Zealand is in it's final day of foodie heaven. Watch and sample food from some of the best New Zealand chefs, 13 top restaurants, 140 artisan producers and boutique wineries. Sample outstanding dishes from top restaurants Grove, Cocoro, Cru at Sale St, Marvel Grill, Monsoon Poon and The Wharf all set to a live soundtrack of Nathan Haines, Caitlin Smith and the Peter Urlich Sextet.

Gala Concert, Vector Arena, 6.30pm today (tickets here)
And with only one more sleep to go, use fine music to soothe your savage beast with the long-awaited gala concert with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

A glamorous night of well-loved arias and light classic favourites from Verdi to Andrew Lloyd Webber begins with a theatrical Maori welcome based on the traditional powhiri, before the internationally renowned NZSO provides the orchestral backdrop for the dazzling Dame Kiri, rising star baritone Kawiti Waetford and acclaimed Kiwi bass Teddy Tahu Rhodes.

And when it's all over bar the shouting, on Monday you can chill:

Kiwi Day Out, Auckland Domain Monday, October 24 from noon.
For its 10th birthday, Fonterra is shouting a free family picnic day and concert - six hours of Kiwi music greats. The "Real New Zealand Thank You" community festival has an international village of the foods and cultures of the 20 World Cup countries, followed by The Fonterra Shout at 3.30pm with Dave Dobbyn, Evermore, the Patea Maori Club and other great young Kiwi talent.

If you're out and about, look out for free family days in Whangarei, Hamilton, Hawera and Palmerston North with barbecues, Tip-Top icecreams and Kiwi greats Tiki Taane, Hello Sailor, Midge Marsden and Tahuna Breaks (all over by 4pm so farmers can rush home for milking).

- NZ Herald

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