Lynley Bilby

Lynley Bilby is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Auckland prepares for big weekend

The Main Events Operations Center in central Auckland. Photo / Doug Sherring
The Main Events Operations Center in central Auckland. Photo / Doug Sherring

A temporary headquarters has been set up to manage massive crowds expected in Auckland this weekend for the NRL Auckland Nines, Rapture and the Lantern Festival.

The Major Events Operation Centre was reactivated today - at a secret location - for this weekend's cluster of events that will attract than 200,000 visitors into the city.

Capacity crowds are expected each day at Eden Park for the rugby league and at Western Springs on Saturday night for the Rapture concert, headlined by Eminem.

The Auckland Lantern Festival in Albert Park. Photo / File / Dean Purcell
The Auckland Lantern Festival in Albert Park. Photo / File / Dean Purcell

A further 100,000 people are expected to attend the Lantern Festival in centrally-located Albert Park.

Auckland Transport special operations centre manager John Strawbridge said the multi-agency control centre aimed to keep the city moving while simultaneously hosting events.

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Extra buses and trains would be running throughout the day from all over Auckland to Eden Park and a fleet of buses would be on hand to disperse crowds from Western Springs, he said.

He advised people to avoid travelling on roads near the venues on Saturday.

"If you don't need to go out in you car at 10.30pm tomorrow night near Western Springs, then please don't."

The control centre is linked to the central city police district command centre giving an overview of what is happening at any one time in Auckland through CCTV coverage.

Police district manager operations and support Inspector Peter Gibson said extra staff from throughout the region had been rostered on to assist event organisers and enable Aucklanders to go about their business with the least amount of disruption.

Said Gibson: "There'll be thousands of visitors to the city and we encourage them, business operators and locals who intend participating in what the city has to offer to be aware of their and their friends' personal safety and responsibilities."

St Johns District operation manager Derek Liefting said extra staff would be posted at event venues along with extra ambulance and response guards.

A makeshift "safe zone" would be erected on Friday and Saturday night near the Ferry Terminal for intoxicated people to detox rather than burden hospital emergency departments.

Roads in the central city and around Eden Park and Western Springs will be closed and large swathes of suburban city fringe neighbourhoods and the entire central business district are under strict liquor bans.

Auckland Council compliance officers and police would be patrolling streets around the park's perimeter and designated walking routes between venues - and confiscating alcohol.

The two largest telecommunication companies would be boosting cellular coverage across Auckland with mobile Cell Sites on Wheels (COW) at Western Springs and Albert Park.

Are you going to the events? Keep in touch.

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- Herald on Sunday

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