It took upwards of 100,000 people to create the mess, but just 167 were charged with cleaning up central Auckland yesterday morning.
Steam cleaners, water blasters and compactor trucks toiled into the early hours to remove layers of bottles, vomit and takeaway remains littering CBD streets. The rubbish was so thick on Customs and Quay Sts early yesterday that pavements could barely be seen.
Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development manager of Rugby World Cup communications Simon Roche said 167 people were employed for the city's biggest clean-up.
Electric litter vacuum machines and rough terrain vehicles were used for the first time to deal with about 100 tonnes of additional waste.
Transpacific employee Pat Hellesoe, 64, started with a leaf blower on Lower Albert St at 2am and said he'd never seen so much rubbish.
"Most people were happy but some kicked bottles around which made my job more difficult." He was extra careful about where he stood after spotting several discarded syringes.
"I'm not into that carry-on but some people enjoy it."
Nav Singh, 27, of Civic Contractors, whizzed around Custom, Queen and Quay Sts on a ride-on vacuum machine. He was philosophical about having to work while others were having the time of their lives. "That's our job."
Richard Bailey, 46, works for the same company and spent the morning waterblasting streets clean. He managed to watch the game before setting his alarm for 3am.
Not many people would be able to cope with his line of work, he said. "You have to be courteous no matter what. That can be challenging when people are drunk."
Cleaners have been rostered 24 hours a day for the next 45 days. Extra services have been organised for match days throughout the tournament.
A rapid response cleaning crew is also on alert to deal with graffiti, dumped rubbish, berms and tree maintenance.
Permanent toilets would be monitored to make sure they were well stocked and clean.
Auckland opening celebrations clean-up co-ordinator Manuel Figota said the mop- up was hampered by foot traffic and "silly" drunk people throwing rubbish in front of workers. He hoped rugby fans would learn not to throw rubbish on the road but admitted it was always likely during such a big event. "Some people just don't care."By Andre Hueber Email Andre