AC/DC play the first of three New Zealand shows at the Cake Tin in Wellington on January 28 - a show that will have been witnessed by about one in every 40 New Zealanders by the time the band leave Auckland following a visit to Western Springs on February 4.

The proportion is likely to be even larger in catchments such as west Auckland and the Hutt Valley, and the huge following will continue for their Australian homecoming shows later in the month.

When ticket sales opened there last year, over half a million were snapped up within three hours.

The response to the Australasian leg of the band's world tour even surprised Garry Van Egmond, who has been with them for decades.

"It has been the biggest success ever. The response we've had to tickets here and in Australia is incredible," he told NZPA.

The Wellington concert sold out so fast that another one was added, and the same thing happened to a greater extent in Australia. AC/DC play three consecutive shows in both Melbourne and Sydney, along with five others around the country.

"We sort of had a feeling we would do two', Van Egmond says, "but we never expected to do the third - in Sydney the capacity is 71,000, so we sold over 200,000 there."

Van Egmond turned up in Wellington a couple of weeks out from the shows and was waiting for the band's 82 shipping containers of gear to turn up from South America, where AC/DC played in December.

Over 130 full-time staff, including two scaffolding crews, have been following the band around the world for over a year as part of the Black Ice tour, and will stay with them for several more months.

"The whole tour started in October, 2008. So they've been on the road for nearly 14 months, and it will finish about October, 2010."

It's his sixth tour with AC/DC, who chose to bring him on board 28 years ago and have stuck with him ever since.

"They are the most loyal people you could ever deal with," he says.

"They are amazing guys to work with. They're the most hands-on people I've ever dealt with in any band, they get involved in ticket pricing, where the shows will be played...They are in charge of their careers, which is a little bit unusual."

AC/DC have never bothered with 'best of' albums and won't let it happen, Van Egmond says.

They used to play festivals, but haven't for many years and are probably simply too big to do so.

Van Egmond says the band would not be comfortable giving up some of the control they have over their own shows and are acutely aware of the dangers big bands can present to energised crowds at festivals where proceedings can get out of control and dangerous if not managed effectively.

He says New Zealand fans will be treated to one of the biggest single music productions to come here and the concert will involve over two hours of every hit they can play.

He's noticed the changing crowd demographics over the decades and this tour is no different.

"What is interesting is that we've now got fans from 12-year-old kids to grandfathers - three generations. And we've noticed we've got a much larger female audience than we used to have."

AC/DC were known to play as hard as they rocked back in the early days, but they tend to look after themselves now.

The band consists of founding members, brothers Angus and Malcolm Young, along with singer Brian Johnson, drummer Phil Rudd and bassist Cliff Williams - all of whom are long-time members.

Original singer Bon Scott died in 1980 after a night of partying in London and Johnson immediately proved his worth as a replacement when subsequent album Back in Black went on to become one of the biggest selling albums in history.

Johnson is an English native, along with Williams - both live in Florida - while the others live in Australia.

Van Egmond says there are tickets still available to the Auckland show, and more tickets have been made available to the second Wellington show after some set changes freed up standing room.

The juggernaut heads to Japan after Australia, before going back to the United States and then to France, Germany and eastern Europe.

Van Egmond says it will be time for a holiday after that and the world will have to wait and see whether the biggest hard rock band around will tour again.

Concert dates: Westpac Stadium, Wellington, January 28 & 30; Western Springs, Auckland, February 4.

- NZPA