Tauranga's blokarts have gone viral after they took centre stage at the Rugby World Cup opening ceremony.

The Facebook page for Papamoa-based company Blokart trebled in traffic soon after and the exposure generated a huge amount of emails from as far away as the United States.

About 60,000 people at the stadium watched the nimble land yachts and their drivers, and another one billion around the world viewed them on television.

But Blokarts' Tauranga inventor Paul Beckett was too nervous to attend the opening ceremony at Eden Park.


"I would have been too stressed out ... and even if something had gone wrong, I couldn't do anything about it," said Beckett, who designed and developed the blokart 11 years ago. Instead, he watched the ceremony on his daughter's television at Cooks Beach.

"I must say when the blokarts came out, there was a little bit of choking and a tear in the eye. The creative guys organising the ceremony did a great job."

Blokart was approached eight weeks ago by the Sydney-based ceremony organiser, David Atkins Enterprises (DAE). Beckett said his company made eight yachts especially for the ceremony, and DAE paid for half the cost of the sails.

Because he was not sure whether there would be wind in the stadium, Beckett mounted a small electric motor on the front wheels.

"Once the wind fills the sail, the motor goes neutral and stops using power - it saves pushing them."

Beckett also cut holes in the 5sq m sails "so they wouldn't power up and start tipping over". The sails were metallic silver panels designed to reflect light, and the tyres were painted grey to match the colour scheme.

The blokarts represented the canoes that arrived in New Zealand. Five members of the Auckland Blokart Club and three staff from DAE drove the blokarts during the ceremony.

"The karts had numbers on their seats telling the drivers which groups to stick to, and they weaved in and out of the dancers. It was fantastic choreography."