Furious rugby fans questioned New Zealand's readiness to host the Rugby World Cup next year after "disgusting" scenes at the opening match of the Super 14 season saw some spectators locked out of the game.

An investigation has begun after thousands of supporters missed the start of the Blues versus Hurricanes game at North Harbour Stadium on Friday due to a ticketing "debacle".

Stadium officials were caught out when 6000 people turned up to buy or pick up tickets, causing the crowd to swell to a 23,000-sellout.

Frustrated fans faced long delays for tickets, while others tried to scale the perimeter fence after being told they had joined the wrong queue.

Prime Minister John Key expressed concern and said any repeat during next year's tournament would be unacceptable.

"We are enormously focused on getting the Rugby World Cup absolutely right and wouldn't want anything like this happening again," he said.

Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully labelled the incident a "wake-up call" and said a full investigation would be carried out by stadium officials and the New Zealand Rugby Union.

Aucklander Marcel van Dijck was left seething after he wasn't allowed in to meet a friend visiting from the United States.

He wrote on Twitter: "Can't even go to the same area as my USA guests, embarrassed to be a Kiwi today. Absolutely disgusting organisation, shambles.

"NZRU hold your head in shame. What a disorganised load of rubbish. A joke. North Harbour Stadium u r a mess. Rugby is the loser. Good luck with the World Cup."

Van Dijck ended up leaving at halftime with his 9-year-old son.

He added: "The facilities were a joke."

North Harbour Stadium chief executive Brendan O'Connor apologised to fans.

He said: "We got slammed by walk-ups late in the piece. I apologise to people that did experience frustration."

Fans also blasted stadium officials for understaffing at food and drink stalls. John Fitch, from Henderson, said he missed a quarter of the game while queuing to buy a beer.

He said: "It was bloody awful. I have gone to rugby games all over the world and never experienced service as bad as that. People were saying 'it's only 12 months out from a World Cup'. It was shocking."

Graham Potter, chairman of the Auckland Rugby Supporters Club, said thousands of people trickled into the ground throughout the first half.

The $41m stadium, which has been beset by problems since it was opened in 1997, is due to host three pool matches next year.

Cup heavyweights France - Richie McCaw's All Blacks' main rivals in Pool A - will play an Asian qualifier there. World champions South Africa have two matches at the stadium, including a showdown with Samoa.

The stadium missed out to Eden Park to host the final.

The ground will increase capacity to 30,000 for the tournament, placing even more strain on public transport and infrastructure.

McCully, whose East Coast Bays electorate borders the ground, said he was worried about the effect of the ticketing furore on New Zealand's reputation.

"This isn't the sort of thing that will help our ability to attract visitors here and sell packages to games.

"It's not the sort of advertisement we were looking for and I am sure that it's a wake-up call for people running major sporting events in New Zealand."

McCully, an avid North Harbour rugby fan, added: "New Zealanders would expect us to do better.

"I do expect us to get these things right. I am sure that the post-mortem will be thorough and lessons will be learned.

"North Harbour will be on display this year and we need to eliminate mistakes."

The minister said he would be speaking to stadium boss O'Connor to make sure there was no repeat.

"I know that those involved are going to take this very seriously. I think it's correct that with the capacity being lifted for the World Cup we need to make sure that every detail is nailed down."

The cup's organising body said they would be monitoring developments closely.

Nigel Cass, the chief of tournament services for Rugby World Cup 2011, said 5000 volunteers would be deployed to ensure rugby fans were looked after at matches.

He said: "One of our top priorities is ensuring spectators have a fantastic experience on their way to games, getting into games, and moving around inside stadiums.

"We will be looking at existing processes and seeing if there are things that can be made better."