Which is the top sports ground in New Zealand?

Nelson's Saxton Oval. Photo / Getty
Nelson's Saxton Oval. Photo / Getty

What makes a great sports ground? Is it access, the quality and cost of food or just the overall setting?

New Zealand Herald sport and Radio Sport staff were asked to rank their top-five grounds/stadiums/venues in New Zealand. It could have been a racecourse, a motoring track, a cricket venue, a lawn bowls club... whatever. If someone could watch sport there, it was fine.

Every top ranked pick was given a score of five points, then four, three, two and one point for the following selections.

There was of course regional and high school alumni bias shown and a number of former grounds featured like Athletic Park, Carlaw Park and Hamilton's Forest Lake Speedway.

The results were interesting, especially around Mt Smart Stadium and where Eden Park finished.

Here's now the grounds ranked:

41st= Rugby Park, Invercargill (1 point)

Home of Southland Rugby, sometimes hosts the Highlanders

Another proper rugby ground, similar to Waikato Stadium, except with an old-fashioned embankment on one side - the best place to watch a game and share in a few witticisms. The weather can be brutal, but don't let that put you off. - Patrick McKendry

Rugby Park, Invercargill
Rugby Park, Invercargill

41st= Mountain Pass leg of Coast to Coast (1 point)

The Coast to Coast mountain leg.
The Coast to Coast mountain leg.

41st= North Shore Rugby Club, Vauxhall Road (1 point)

Because you might just bump into Buck Shelford or PJ Montgomery. - Hayden O'Neill

North Shore play at the North Shore Rugby Club.
North Shore play at the North Shore Rugby Club.

41st= Cornwall Park, Hastings (1 point)

Lived across the road as a kid ) brilliant memories watching club cricket in a tree lined setting. - Matt Brown

41st= Western Springs AFC, Auckland (1 point)

The balcony roaring, home team on attack...football being exactly what it should be. - Martin Devlin

41st= Cox's Bay Reserve, Auckland (1 point)

Home of Grafton Cricket Club, Ponsonby Rugby and the pre-eminent touch rugby competition in Auckland

Beautiful views of the bay, Lush greenery. It's the best ground for sport in Auckland. -Elliott Smith

Cox's Bay Reserve.
Cox's Bay Reserve.

41st= Addington Racecourse, Christchurch (1 point)

On New Zealand Cup Day - Simon Doull

Fans during New Zealand Cup Day at Addington.
Fans during New Zealand Cup Day at Addington.

41st= Toll Stadium, Whangarei (1 point)

Home of Northland Rugby

One of New Zealand's hidden gems. Always relaxed, never queue for a drink. - Steven Holloway

Toll Stadium.
Toll Stadium.

35th= Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland (2 points)

Home of the New Zealand Warriors

Amazing atmosphere when full - best of any NZ ground. Could do with a facelift but fans sitting that close provides unmatched atmosphere. - Dale Budge

Mt Smart Stadium, home of the New Zealand Warriors. Photo / Getty
Mt Smart Stadium, home of the New Zealand Warriors. Photo / Getty

35th= Christchurch's Port Hills (2 points)

The former venue of the elite national road cycling championships. The climb up Dyers Pass Road is brutal to a mere mortal and, after the fifth or sixth lap in this race, has an effect on even the fittest of the elite riders. Was beginning to attract a European-style loud and boisterous support on the climbs before the race was moved to Napier. - Patrick McKendry

35th= Waitakere Trusts Stadium (2 points)

For the world darts event. Unbeatable atmosphere and crowd enthusiasm. - Chris Rattue

Trusts Stadium played host to the best darts players in the world. Photo / Getty
Trusts Stadium played host to the best darts players in the world. Photo / Getty

35th= Gower Park, Hamilton (2 points)

Home of Melville United Association Football Club

Only a couple hundred fans are needed for the atmosphere to bubble at Hamilton's home of football. Surface is excellent, beers on deck overlooking the ground are a must. - Steven Holloway

35th= Hutt Recreation Ground, Lower Hutt. (2 points)

Former part-time home of the Wellington Phoenix

Ugly, dated, uncomfortable with 1/2-assed facilities but seemed to work oh-so-well for the 'Nix last season. - Martin Devlin

The Phoenix used Hutt Rec as a part-time home last season. Photo / Getty
The Phoenix used Hutt Rec as a part-time home last season. Photo / Getty

35th= Saxton Oval, Nelson (2 points)

ODI venue, one of the many homes of Central Districts Cricket

Splendid setting, beaut pulled pork burgers. - David Leggat

Saxton Oval hosted several matches during the Cricket World Cup. Photo / Getty
Saxton Oval hosted several matches during the Cricket World Cup. Photo / Getty

26th= Botanics Cricket Ground, Nelson (3 points)

Brilliant club cricket ground surrounded by trees - Jason Pine

26th= Ecolight Stadium, Pukekohe (3 points)

Home of Counties Manukau Rugby

A packed Ecolight Stadium cheer on Counties during their Shield run in 2013-14. Photo / Getty
A packed Ecolight Stadium cheer on Counties during their Shield run in 2013-14. Photo / Getty

26th= Otago Boys High School (3 points)

Once home of a young Richie McCaw

Amphitheatre-like setting against the hill. Best when the Kings boys are staring down the OBs boys in the haka-off. Michael Brown

26th= Whakarua Park, Ruatoria (3 points)

Could always watch the rugby from the car bonnet. - Matt Brown

 Ngati Porou East Coast V's Nelson Bays at Whakarua Park in 2001. Photo / Richard Robinson
Ngati Porou East Coast V's Nelson Bays at Whakarua Park in 2001. Photo / Richard Robinson

26th= Colin Maiden Park, Auckland (3 points)

Uni-Mount Wellington over 30s vs anyone. Have been playing there for 15 years - best amateur football fields in the country (non astro). - Brad Lewis

26th= North Harbour Stadium (3 points)

Test rugby venue, home of North Harbour Rugby, someones hosts Blues and All Whites

No one is ever there so you can sit anywhere any time. - Mark Watson
Great for test footy and football matches... Not so good for Harbour rugby - Kent Johns

North Harbour Stadium.
North Harbour Stadium.

26th= Forest Lake Speedway, Hamilton (3 points)

Former speedway venue

26th= Cambridge velodrome (3 points)

Stick your nose over the riders. Feel the speed. - David Leggat

Uzbekistan cyclist Vadim Shaekhov during a flying lap at the Cambridge velodrome. photo / Alan Gibson
Uzbekistan cyclist Vadim Shaekhov during a flying lap at the Cambridge velodrome. photo / Alan Gibson

26th= Cooks Garden, Wanganui (3 points)

Home of the Cooks Classic

Purely historical reasons. - Hayden O'Neill

26th= Onewa Domain, Auckland(3 points)

Spiritual home of North Harbour Rugby, home of Takapuna Rugby Club

Great for Harbour rugby! - Kent Johns

North Harbour captain Wayne Shelford is not going to let go of Wallaby halfback Peter Slattery's jersey  during their rugby match at Onewa Domain in 1990.
North Harbour captain Wayne Shelford is not going to let go of Wallaby halfback Peter Slattery's jersey during their rugby match at Onewa Domain in 1990.

22nd= Rugby Park, Christchurch (4 points)

Test rugby venue, home of the Crusaders and Canterbury Rugby

First game of rugby I saw when I arrived in New Zealand as a 12 year old. Something magic about standing on the sidelines behind a yellow rope. - Charlie Bristow

Compact rugby venue for watching club rugby and school rugby. Seats are uncomfortable which only adds to the charm. - Elliott Smith

Rugby Park during the provincial semifinal clash between Canterbury and Taranaki last season. Photo / Getty
Rugby Park during the provincial semifinal clash between Canterbury and Taranaki last season. Photo / Getty

22nd= David Farrington Park, Wellington (4 points)

Home of Miramar Rangers, Wellington Phoenix Reserves and Team Wellington

Intimate football ground with a great playing surface - Jason Pine

Players attend an Austria U-20s training session at David Farrington Park. Photo / Getty
Players attend an Austria U-20s training session at David Farrington Park. Photo / Getty

22nd= Westpac Stadium, Wellington aka The Cake Tin (4 points)

Test rugby venue, hosts ODI/T20s, home of the Hurricanes, Wellington Rugby, the Wellington Phoenix and the Wellington Sevens

Best nickname. - Martin Devlin

Westpac Stadium hosting a cricket T20. Photo / Getty
Westpac Stadium hosting a cricket T20. Photo / Getty

22nd= Bay Oval, Mt Maunganui (4 points)

Recent addition to New Zealand's list of ODI/T20 venues

Nice spot, done up nicely. - David Leggat

Bay Oval has become a regular international cricket venue in recent years. Photo / Getty
Bay Oval has become a regular international cricket venue in recent years. Photo / Getty

15th= McLean Park, Napier (5 points)

Test rugby venue, test cricket venue, home of Hawke's Bay Rugby and one of many Central Districts cricket homes, best cricket covers in New Zealand

Home of the mighty Magpies - Matt Brown

Regional bias pick. Saw first my All Blacks test and cricket test there as well as the Magpies beating the touring Lions in '93. - Cameron McMillan

McLean Park. Photo /Getty
McLean Park. Photo /Getty

15th= Molyneux Park, Alexandra (5 points - One 1st place vote)

Secondary home of Otago Cricket

Great weather, great backdrop, great cherries, (sometimes) great cricket. - Michael Brown

15th= North Shore Events Centre, Auckland (5 points - One 1st place vote)

Major home of the Breakers

It has the atmosphere of a school gymnasium, which is one of its main appeals. You're close to the action, and it's loud - when the Breakers are playing well. There are few queues for the reasonably-priced beer. Can even park your car there for $5. It's what live sport is all about. - Patrick McKendry

15th= Ellerslie Racecourse, Auckland (5 points - One 1st place vote)

Host of horse races

Derby Cup Day - Simon Doull

15th= Takapuna Grammar, Auckland (5 points - One 1st place vote)

15th= The Gully, New Plymouth Boys High School. (7 points)

Best school rugby ground in the world. -Dylan Cleaver

15th= Vector Arena, Auckland (7 points)

Test netball venue, one home of the Breakers, one-time UFC venue

With the capacity crowd cheering on the virtually unstoppable Breakers, this place cooks. Central, modern and user friendly. - D'Arcy Waldegrave
Only because I am a big UFC fan and the event there in June 2014 was amazing. - Brad Lewis
You can walk to the ground from the centre of Auckland. A unique idea. - Cameron McMillan
For basketball and netball - Mark Watson

Vector Arena hosted a UFC event in 2014.
Vector Arena hosted a UFC event in 2014.

14th - Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth (9 points - One 1st place vote)

Test rugby venue, home of Taranaki Rugby, granny flat of the Chiefs

Best grandstand for watching rugby in the country. - Hayden O'Neill
Best rugby ground in the world. Big mountain in the background. - Dylan Cleaver

Yarrow Stadium.
Yarrow Stadium.

12th= Pukekohe Race Track (10 points)

Home of the New Zealand round of the V8s Supercars

Just awesome - everyone there is going for the same reason - watching cars go really fast. - Brad Lewis
iconic, unique with bumps etc, history, grass embankment, my own childhood experiences. - Dale Budge
It may be a tad 'agricultural' but memories run deep, the grandstand view is almost %100 and the old back straight is faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaast. A day on Ford Mountain is a day well spent with some of the most ferocious fans to walk the earth. - D'Arcy Waldegrave

12th= Athletic Park, Wellington (10 points - Two 1st place votes)

Former test venue and home of Wellington Rugby and the Hurricanes

Long gone, never forgotten, especially the smell of those 100yr old urinals. - Martin Devlin
Top of the Millard Stand at the old Athletic Park on a windy day (watched the 1993 Lions there ) among others. - Matt Brown

The All Blacks perform a haka at Athletic Park, with the Millard Stand in the background.
The All Blacks perform a haka at Athletic Park, with the Millard Stand in the background.

11th - Waikato Stadium, Hamilton (11 points)

Test rugby venue, home of Chiefs and Waikato Rugby

Love me some cow bells. - Charlie Bristow
The best rugby ground in New Zealand. So close to the action you feel like you're part of the game. - Brenton Vannisselroy
Proper rugby stadium which doesn't cater for other sports, which means the crowd is close to the action, the way it should be. - Patrick McKendry
Looks pretty good and is amazing for Hamilton - Steven Holloway
Best purpose built footy ground I've been to. - Kent Johns
A proper football ground. Take note Auckland. (The old Rugby Park there was about the worst stadium I ever visited, certainly from a working media point of view.) - Chris Rattue

Waikato Stadium hosting an All Blacks test. Photo / Getty
Waikato Stadium hosting an All Blacks test. Photo / Getty

10th - Carlaw Park, Auckland (12 points - Two 1st place vote)

Former home of New Zealand Rugby League, Auckland Rugby League, now hotel, apartments and offices

You could even hear the coaches halftime team talks, smell the liniment... - Michael Burgess
Experienced the two of the best (adult) football memories ever there...Auckland v Australia (1989) and Tonga v Samoa (early 1990s). It was a tip with heart on its best days (with a sensational view from the press box). - Chris Rattue

The old Railway Stand at Carlaw Park
The old Railway Stand at Carlaw Park

9th - Seddon Park, Hamilton (13 points - One 1st place vote)

Test and ODI cricket venue, home of Northern Districts Cricket

Proper cricket ground, bit small but picket fences, grass embankment etc. - Dale Budge
This is the best ground to watch cricket in the north. - Kent Johns

Seddon Park, Hamilton. Photo / Getty
Seddon Park, Hamilton. Photo / Getty

7th= - Queenstown Events Centre (15 points)

Test and ODI cricket venue, former home of national sevens tournament

There's no more beautiful setting in sport. - Brenton Vannisselroy
Picaresque and boutique before it was cool. Stunning views and also really handy to the airport. - Elliott Smith
Beautiful setting - surely one of the most picturesque in the world - and the weather is generally pretty good, along with the sporting action. - Patrick McKendry
Scenery, old school grass banks, picturesque. Enough space on a quiet day to play BYC in the ground. - Steven Holloway

Ross Taylor fields in the deep at Queenstown Events Centre. Photo / Getty
Ross Taylor fields in the deep at Queenstown Events Centre. Photo / Getty

7th= Kiwitea Street, Auckland (15 points - One 1st place vote)

Home of Auckland City and Central United

Beautiful boutique ground, immaculate playing surface, fans are so close to the action, easy access. Perfect for its fan base. - Steven Holloway
A true suburban sports ground with a English league football feeling. - Brenton Vannisselroy.
Great atmosphere and intimate ground - Jason Pine
Intimate, close to the action, good atmosphere - Michael Brown
Perfect football ground when packed - Michael Burgess
Central United/Auckland City's football ground is a quaint homage to suburban-based sport. Softballers will remember something similar, at the long-gone Coca Cola Ball Park in Mt Albert....now part of a supermarket. - Chris Rattue

A large turn out of fans during the OFC Champions League soccer match between Auckland City FC and Fiji's Ba FC in 2013.
A large turn out of fans during the OFC Champions League soccer match between Auckland City FC and Fiji's Ba FC in 2013.

6th - Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin (16 points)

Home of Highlanders and Otago Rugby, has roof

Stadiums with roofs are the future. - Charlie Bristow
Top class viewing from all seating. Also can take the raincoat and jumper off and watch in shirtsleeves in July. - David Leggat
the roof makes it a great place to watch sport - Jason Pine
Like being in your living room, albeit with a few thousand others. Michael Brown
It's OK I guess. - Dylan Cleaver
The future of NZ sport venues. Warm, dry and right on top of the game. It's also within good staggering distance of the CBD. - D'Arcy Waldegrave

Forsyth Barr Stadium. Photo / Getty
Forsyth Barr Stadium. Photo / Getty

5th - Hagley Oval, Christchurch (19 points - Three 1st place votes)

Home of Canterbury Cricket, recently redeveloped for Cricket World Cup

The epitome of what a boutique ground in New Zealand should look and feel like. Two Black Caps Boxing Day matches have been unreal. - Charlie Bristow
A superb amphitheatre for cricket. Grassy bank, boutique ground and absolutely humming for the Boxing Day test last year. Top notch development. Thank god the nay-sayers didn't get their way. -Elliott Smith
*PRE-redevelopment. Best possible place to watch cricket, tree-lined, sun-drenched splendour. - David Leggat

 General view of Hagley Oval. Photo / Getty
General view of Hagley Oval. Photo / Getty

3rd= Pukekura Park, New Plymouth (21 points - One 1st place vote)

One of the many homes of Central Districts Cricket, hosted the recent Ford Trophy final

Best cricket ground in the world. Bit small these days, but could be easily enlarged. - Dylan Cleaver
Most picturesque ground for domestic cricket. -Hayden O'Neill

Pukekura Park, New Plymouth.
Pukekura Park, New Plymouth.

3rd= Western Springs, Auckland (21 points - Two 1st place votes)

Home of speedway in Auckland

I have several fond memories of summer nights spent at this natural sporting amphitheatre. - Brenton Vannisselroy
Uncomfortable as all hell but super fun and a great night out. - Brad Lewis
Don't let them move it. A world renowned facility in idyllic location. So much history. - Dale Budge
Especially in the glory days of Barry Butterworth, Ted Tracey, Sleepy Tripp. - Michael Burgess
Loud, dirty, intimate and really annoying to the locals. High powered cars, tiny circuit with ample supplies of sprayed mud for the crowd. - D'Arcy Waldegrave

Western Springs.
Western Springs.

2nd - Eden Park, Auckland (*24 points - Three 1st place votes)

Home of the Blues, the NRL Nines, Auckland Rugby and once hosted West Ham.

Gets a lot of flak, but the crowd for the three Black Caps and two All Blacks matches I've watched have been stupendous. The only stadium where you see a Kiwi crowd come to life. - Charlie Bristow
When full..eg All Blacks Test or World Cup vs Aus / vs SA - the two best sporting atmospheres I have ever been at. - Brad Lewis.
Mainly for historic reasons and when it's packed it's the best place to be. - Cameron McMillan
* Only at the 1992 Cricket World Cup - Michael Burgess
* ODI Cricket only. Eden Park not great for football codes but magnificent for jammed packed cricket matches. Always a mischievous day out on the terraces in my formative youth. - Kent Johns
Horrible place now by modern standards but a lot of brilliant memories, particularly cricket during the Hadlee years and childhood days spent watching the Ponsonby and Auckland rugby teams. - Chris Rattue

 General view of Eden Park during the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup match between South Africa and Pakistan at Eden Park. Photo / Getty
General view of Eden Park during the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup match between South Africa and Pakistan at Eden Park. Photo / Getty

1st - Basin Reserve, Wellington (43 points - Three 1st place votes)

Home of Wellington Cricket, regular test cricket venue, recent ODI venue again, roundabout.

Nothing really beats a day on the bank at the Basin. I love that you're allowed to walk around the boundary even if you don't have a ticket because it's a public park. - Brenton Vannisselroy
Easily our best test venue. - Hayden O'Neill
You can watch the cricket while standing at the urinal - special - Dylan Cleaver
No better place to spend a day than watching test cricket on the bank at the Basin - Jason Pine
True dimensions, classic look with pickets and pavilion etc, picturesque, unique conditions with wind etc. - Dale Budge
A proper cricket ground. Shame about the weather. - Michael Brown

The Basin Reserve. Photo / Getty
The Basin Reserve. Photo / Getty

- NZ Herald

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