Auckland City will spend up to $1.8 million on a waterfront opening celebration for the Rugby World Cup.

The council is seeking applications for a creative director and production company to turn on a civic bash from late in the afternoon of Friday, September 9, next year - before the tournament's opening match between the All Blacks and Tonga.

In a document inviting applications and creative concepts by August 25, it says it expects the event to continue until after the match, which will kick off about 8.30pm.

It is to be free to the public and separate from Rugby New Zealand's official opening ceremony at Eden Park.

The event will encompass Viaduct Harbour, Te Wero Island, Quay St, surrounding water space and "potentially" Queens Wharf, and will be paid for from a city budget of $59.7 million in support of the tournament.

Regardless of whether the wharf is included, the successful contractor will be expected to work with organisers of the proposed fan zone there, where the Government intends building a temporary structure to serve as Party Central for visitors and local residents.

The council is considering whether to apply for a share of a $9.5 million lotteries funding which the Government has announced for a nationwide Rugby World Cup festival.