Auckland's newest entertainment precinct is quickly taking shape.

The $120 million Wynyard Quarter, a city development west of the Viaduct Basin, is readying itself for the flood of Rugby World Cup enthusiasts looking to sate their thirst on Auckland's waterfront.

Prime Minister John Key and Auckland mayor Len Brown will open the new wharf precinct to the public on Saturday morning, although there is a lot of cosmetic work to be done before then to get things completed.

Construction workers have been working through this weekend to apply the finishing touches to the quarter, which stretches from Te Wero Island, down Jellicoe St to Silo Park.


Waterfront Auckland chairman Bob Harvey was confident it would be finished on time.

"We are all go - Auckland will see their new waterfront on time and on budget," said the former Waitakere mayor.

Last weekend the 500 or so contractors on site were shouted fish 'n' chips to thank them for their efforts.

"We've really asked people to go beyond the norm," Harvey said. "Aucklanders will be absolutely knocked out by the trees, the water gardens and the new cafes and bars will open this weekend."

Celebrated New York-based landscape architect Ken Smith visited the site last week and was impressed with the scope and the quality of the project.

"It was very sophisticated - the materials and the details were very good," he said.

"It's some of the best landscape architecture I've seen anywhere in the world."

He said the quarter was well-connected to the city and would build a really good neighbourhood in the future.

A year ago the area was home to a dingy old shed and run-down wharves.

Now it's a tree-lined boulevard adding more bars, restaurants and cafes to Auckland's hospitality sector.

From Te Wero Bridge, pedestrians enter the Gateway Plaza, a boulevard complete with a wetland boardwalk that weaves its way through transplanted pohutukawa trees.

The cobbled square leads to Jellicoe St, from where a heritage tram will run in a 1.5km clockwise loop down Halsey St, along Gaunt St and up Daldy St.

Tomorrow the new trams will be road tested, so they can be up and running on the tracks on Saturday.

Down Jellicoe St, the old red shed has been retained and transformed into a bar to make up part of the North Wharf section of the quarter.

It will still operate as a functioning wharf and includes a new North Wharf building housing nine bars and restaurants. Among them are The Conservatory and Jack Tar.

Already open is the Viaduct Events Centre, a glass behemoth that is hosting the Auckland Art Fair next month and will be home to fashion shows and conferences for the Rugby World Cup.

After an early morning powhiri and blessing, Saturday's opening ceremony will run all day with food, art, tram journeys and music from acts such as The Vietnam War, the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra, and well-known Auckland troubadour Don McGlashan and the Seven Sisters.

City guide for Cup fans

Pop star Boh Runga spends most of her time in Los Angeles - but at heart she's still an Aucklander.

She is one of six "insiders" who has provided an electronic guide to her favourite shops and restaurants for the benefit of World Cup tourists.

Business association Heart of the City has compiled the new electronic guide for iPods and cellphones. It features more than 400 bars, cafes, fashion boutiques and more.

The Insiders' Guide to Downtown Auckland is available in hard-copy form or as a free iTunes or Android application.

Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney said the guide was "quite informal".

"It's a very laconic, laid-back Kiwi way to embrace these tourists."

The app is available online now and the hard-copy version will be distributed next month in Auckland stores.