Auckland's transport system ground to a halt tonight, stopping thousands of rugby fans getting to the opening game of the Rugby World Cup on time.

As an estimated crowd of more than 100,000 people took to the streets to celebrate, authorities were forced to close parts of the city to traffic.

And in the middle of the chaos people were bashed, pedestrians were hit by a bus and children were separated from their parents.

Some rugby fans, disgusted with the poor performance of Auckland's trains, want compensation for rugby tickets they say they couldn't use.


Nelson man Robert Paul said he had been in a train carriage at Britomart for 40 minutes waiting for it to leave for Eden Park. He had arrived in good time to get to the All Blacks v Tonga game and was upset he would not make it in time.

"We want our money back. We are not going to make it to the opening ceremony," he said.

He said some frustrated passengers got out of the train and began walking up the tracks towards Eden Park.

Another man, Peter Jacobs, said his train from Britomart was delayed for about an hour.

"It was pretty crammed in there but there were people singing the New Zealand and Tongan national anthems and having a bloody good time. I can't complain, really."

The Britomart transport hub later closed its doors.

At Kingsland, two citybound trains were brought to a standstill and one evacuated after smoke was seen billowing from a carriage.

Veolia spokeswoman Brooke Donovan said a passenger had let a fire extinguisher off in a carriage. Other passengers had been pushing the emergency stop buttons on the trains, causing more delays.


Sharon and Laura Jones and Rob Purcell were furious with the train network.

They waited an hour on a platform to get on a train.

"Four trains went past, choc-a-block. We got here finally after waiting there for an hour," Mr Purcell said.

"They couldn't cope with that capacity. I thought it was a bloody joke," Ms Jones said.

Mr Purcell said that when they finally reached the city, he saw numerous pedestrians dicing with danger in the streets still open to vehicle traffic.

Lower Queen St and Customs St westbound were later closed to traffic on the advice of police.

But six people were hurt when a bus hit them in Fanshawe St in the city. The bus and a car had collided before the bus hit the group.

A 33-year-old man and a 50-year-old woman were taken to Auckland hospital.

Auckland District Health Board spokesman Mark Fenwick said both were in a stable condition.

Ferry services into the CBD were stopped this afternoon when the downtown area was at its fullest.

Authorities said that due to large crowds people were unable to get into ferry terminals and ferries were unable to offload passengers.

Police had to clear crowds from the ferry building area before sailings could recommence.

North Shore resident Michael Maher said there were massive queues at the Devonport ferry terminal and hundreds of people were turned away from the 4pm sailing to Auckland.

"They said only people with tickets for the game could get on the ferry."

Early arrivals to the game said public transport to Eden Park appeared to be running smoothly.

Kevin McCaffrey said the bus ride from Albany to the stadium took just 25 minutes.

"Outstanding," he said.

A spokesman for Auckland Mayor Len Brown said the mayor, who was in the stands at Eden Park, was aware of the transport issues and would comment later tonight.

Mr Brown decided yesterday to go the game by car in case there were problems with the trains.

Police said later this evening that given the public transport problems and in the interests of public safety people should not to return to the downtown and the Queens Wharf areas unless they had to.

They said people should revise their travel plans and consider taking cabs or walking home with a group of friends.

As the night wore on, the crowds in the CBD got rowdier and two men were taken to hospital after assaults.

A 38-year-old security guard was bashed outside Auckland Art Gallery and a 21-year-old man was assaulted outside The Stamford Plaza Hotel on Queen St.

Police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty said police had been looking after a number of children who had become separated from their parents.

By 9pm tonight they were still looking after two children. Two other children, an 11-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy, were reported missing.

The crowds also took their toll on the phone networks.

Telecom spokesman Mark Watts said some people were experiencing network delays as a result of so many being in one place.

Despite many Vodafone users reporting problems, the company said its network was operating normally.