There may not have been a winner on the field, but Kiwi councils and hospitality providers are toasting to success at the end of the British and Irish Lions tour.

The Lions visited seven cities during their 36-day trip, taking their merry band of 20,000 vocal supporters with them.

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed) chief executive Brett O'Riley said the Lions tour has been a "huge success".

"The region has been awash with a sea of red and the 20,000 plus visiting fans have been the best guests making the most of the tourism experiences and food and beverage options throughout Auckland."

Advertisement

Auckland hosted two of the three tests between the Lions and the All Blacks, as well as the Blues' upset win against the visitors.

O'Riley said the series brought in 14,000 domestic visitors.

"While we don't have the full economic impact data in yet, the series is estimated to generate $26.7 million for the Auckland economy, and 165,000 visitor nights."

Hospitality NZ Auckland president Russell Gray said the series' deciding test being held days after the victory parade for Team New Zealand was a "windfall" for the city.

"I think Auckland experienced a bit of a one-off last week with the amazing America's Cup parade on the Thursday leading straight into a test weekend, and so that was probably bigger than anyone had anticipated.

"Everyone was in party mode and that flowed into the weekend."

Gray is also the director of the Good Group whose businesses include Harbourside Ocean Bar and Grill, Botswana Butchery and White + Wong's on Auckland's Viaduct Harbour. He said the city is "maturing" as an international destination.

Lions Fan Paul Reed on his way to Eden Park for the final test of the Lions v All Blacks. The Lions' supporters' hunger for a good time kept tills ringing around the country. Photo / Chris Loufte
Lions Fan Paul Reed on his way to Eden Park for the final test of the Lions v All Blacks. The Lions' supporters' hunger for a good time kept tills ringing around the country. Photo / Chris Loufte

"[Auckland] is capable of hosting these things well and executing well. The timing is perfect, because normally July is a little bit quieter because of the winter weather... so it probably couldn't have come at a better time.

Advertisement

"There's a fair bit of hard work and planning that goes into successfully executing from a hospitality point of view, to make sure that the massive influx of people are well catered for."

The city's Irish pubs welcomed an avalanche of thirsty punters.

Speaking to the Herald before the first test kicked off, O'Hagans and Danny Doolans operations manager Colin Maguire said capacity at his Viaduct Harbour bars would triple.

"We're going from a capacity of 400 to 1200 at O'Hagans, we've got live music, face painters, the whole lot. It's going to be insane mate.

"I've got 120 extra kegs arriving ..."

He expected it to be "very similar" to St Patrick's Day.

Lions fans on their way to Eden Park for the final test of the Lions v All Blacks. Photo / Chris Loufte
Lions fans on their way to Eden Park for the final test of the Lions v All Blacks. Photo / Chris Loufte

Wellington's windfall

Wellington hosted the second test as well as the midweek game between the Lions and the Hurricanes.

Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency interim chief executive Derek Fry said he is confident the tour's economic benefit to the city will be about $30m.

"We regard it as an extraordinarily successful event, having the Tuesday Hurricanes game and the second test... certainly anecdotally we're hearing that the typical sectors of accommodation, hospitality, transport and tourism are the ones that clearly benefited, that's the feedback we're getting."

He said Lions tours were "up there" in terms of major events to be held in Wellington.

"They are probably the quintessential sports tourists, they are great ambassadors for their countries, they've come a long way and they're determined to enjoy themselves.

"One of our main strategies is about creating memories for these people so that one day they may return... it's right up there as a massive event.

"We're still basking a little bit in the afterglow, but I think we're pretty happy with how it's all turned out, and the ability of the city to cope with being at capacity. There are always risks with that, but in the main Wellington's done well."

All Blacks captain Kieran Read shakes hands with Lions lock Maro Itoje after the final test match between the All Blacks and the British and Irish Lions at Eden Park. Photo / Brett Phibbs
All Blacks captain Kieran Read shakes hands with Lions lock Maro Itoje after the final test match between the All Blacks and the British and Irish Lions at Eden Park. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Hospitality NZ Wellington president Jeremy Smith said the impact of the tour started a little slower than expected.

"It started slow, I've got to be honest, we had massively high expectations but it started slow.

"The [Hurricanes] game was about 75 per cent New Zealand fans and 25 per cent visitors and a lot of the campervans took a week to come down to Wellington."

Smith, who is also director of the Trinity Group, said Wellington "came alive" on the Thursday night before the second test.

"We had all our tourists in town and Wellingtonians said great, the tour's alive.

"For Wellington it sure was a success. Having die-hard rugby supporters is always good for the economy across the board - accommodation, bars and restaurants, retail, everyone benefits, and [Lions fans] tend to be reasonably well-financed because they've either saved a bit of money or have a lot of money and they've come to have a good time."

The sentiment of success was shared in Hamilton as well.

Hamilton City Council major events director Chad Hooker said fans spent plenty of time in the town's bars, restaurants and cafes.

"The match itself was a sell-out and the Lions fans brought a terrific energy and colour to the event, no doubt inspired by their team's comfortable victory over the Chiefs. We were very pleased with how the event was delivered.

"We also had more than 140 campervans and 300 people at a temporary campervan park we set up at Claudelands, and we received positive feedback on that initiative. There were also some very positive comments on our free FanZone within Claudelands on match night, with more than 1000 people attending.

"Our staff also spotted Lions fans in the city again between the second and third test, suggesting some of them had chosen to spend additional time here."

The Lions tour has led to a significant boost in spending across the country.

Data from electronic payments company Paymark this week showed $904m was spent on food, alcohol and entertainment for the month of June - up 11.3 per cent on the same period in 2016.

Whangarei District Council economic development manager Peter Gleeson said hospitality operators in the area reported record turnover.

"Despite an overnight deluge which didn't relent until 11:00am Saturday, the pitch was presented in remarkable condition. The weather event led to some humorous incidents on the embankment, however the crowd remained in a joyous mood.

"It was also pleasing to witness a sea of Red Army visitors travel further north to the Bay of Islands the following day and enjoy the welcome on the Waitangi Treaty grounds along with the picturesque Bay of Islands, which all adds to grow our region's economy," he said.

Christchurch NZ major events manager Richard Attwood said the tour was a "fantastic advertisement for rugby, New Zealand and Christchurch".

"We had large numbers of Lions supporters here for the Crusaders game, and even though there was no test match here we had a lot returning over the last three weeks," he said.

"They were very obvious around town in their red jackets, and it was clear that they were really enjoying themselves. Their presence was a boost to local accommodation and hospitality businesses, and to tourism providers in the city and the wider region."

Meanwhile Auckland Council's events arm is also hailing the success of the World Masters Games which were held in the city during April.

Ateed chief executive Brett O'Riley said the games is expected to have delivered more than $30m to the region's economy.

"World Masters Games 2017 was dubbed the 'best games ever' by the International Masters Games Association, attracting [more than] 28,000 participants from more than 100 countries.

"It was the biggest sporting event to happen in Auckland since the Rugby World Cup 2011 and provided an opportunity for the entire Auckland region to benefit," he said.

Future events

Auckland has been buzzing with a flurry of recent major events, but what can people expect as we head into the second half of the year?

O'Riley said the 2016/17 calendar of major events has been the biggest ever for Auckland.

"Each event has been hugely successful for the region and with it brought significant social and economic benefits. We've been able to showcase Auckland as a destination and our capabilities as a world-class events city."

O'Riley said Ateed invests in major events on behalf of Auckland Council to "deliver economic and social benefits for Auckland".

He said there are "still a number of events lined up for the coming months which will appeal to locals and visitors alike".

Music superstars are set to descend onto our shores, headlined by Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran and Sir Paul McCartney.

Other upcoming events include Matilda the Musical, New Zealand Fashion Week, the New Zealand Open featuring Lydia Ko, Diwali Festival, Rugby League World Cup and ITM Auckland SuperSprint Supercars race.