Fan zones will keep thousands happy - and net giant rewards for the region, write Vaimoana Tapaleao and David Eames.

Rugby fans around Auckland can look forward to getting in on the World Cup action, no matter where they are in the city.

Four areas - dubbed "fan zones" - have been set aside in the Auckland region for the six-week RWC tournament period as places for live entertainment and to watch the games live on big screens.

Events at the free-entry fan zones will be part of the biggest festival ever held in New Zealand, and the first time a co-ordinated nationwide festival has been run to support an RWC tournament.

More details will be revealed at Eden Park today.

Auckland will become what tournament organisers describe as the "hub" of the RWC. At least 12 of the 20 teams will play games here.

Estimates are that at least 43,000 overseas visitors will be in Auckland between the semifinals and final period, in addition to domestic travellers.

In Auckland City, the main fan zone or Party Central site will be at Queens Wharf, on the waterfront, by the time of the opening match on September 9. The site will host up to 20,000 and a visitor information centre.

Auckland residents will be equally important. Take care of them and the visitors will also have a great time - that's the attitude being taken by city restaurateurs and publicans, says Hospitality Association chief executive Bruce Robertson. "This is not just about our visitors."

Publican Gary Braid, owner of the Kingslander bar - near Eden Park - reckons the mood is good on his strip of New North Rd.

He agrees the main aim of the Cup will be to make sure his locals are well catered for, because they will still be around after the foreigners have left. He says authorities have been helpful in assisting with planned road closures. If he and his fellow Kingsland publicans have their way, the strip will be open to foot traffic only.

On the North Shore, Civic Lakes in Albany will be the key fan zone, with celebrations starting on September 8. Built for about 10,000, the site will include a licensed area and a family-friendly area.

In West Auckland, Trusts Stadium will set the scene for those looking to get a piece of the World Cup closer to home. An indoor fan zone will cater to up to 7000. And Manukau City's TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre will have a capacity for up to 8000 people and arts and crafts markets that will reflect the city's Maori and Pacific Island communities.

Tourism Auckland chief executive Graeme Osborne says 85,000 visitors are expected from overseas, but they will be spread around.

Auckland will also have six festival sites, set to host 5000 people, in Manukau, Papakura and Rodney. Auckland City Council arts, culture and recreation chairman Greg Moyle says businesses in areas such as Ponsonby, Parnell and Kingsland need the chance to prosper.

"We want visitors and locals to provide benefit to businesses across the inner-city area."

To find out more, go to:
* Expected to reap rewards of $267 million from the Rugby World Cup.

* Estimated to host 85,000 international visitors throughout the six-week tournament and 43,000 during the semifinals and finals.

* Is spending $1.8 million of a total $59.7 million budget in support of the RWC on a waterfront opening celebration on September 9, 2011.

* Will have a new Marine Events Centre and new public spaces and seafood markets in the Wynyard Quarter.

* Will benefit from a $190 million makeover of Eden Park, paid for partly by the Government.