The bars are already full a day out from the big game in Rotorua as the British and Irish Lions arrive in town to take on the Maori All Blacks.

Saturday night's game will be the crescendo of a week's build-up for both the players and the punters.

For the Lions, it will be the toughest test they encounter before facing the All Blacks and the fans have been treated to all the Bay of Plenty has to offer.

And the cultural challenge will be laid seven and a half hours before kick-off, with a world record haka attempt to be made at noon.


Tourists taking in the geothermal pools and making the most of the sunshine could be spotted all around town, while Rotorua's pubs were already filling early on Friday afternoon.

Mayor Steve Chadwick said the excitement in town had "geared up" since the Maori All Blacks were welcomed earlier in the week.

"We're extremely proud to be hosting and especially of our local team members, Liam Messam and Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, who both played their junior rugby here.

"The taiaha being presented to the winner of the Rotorua game, Te Roto, is a bit special too. The carvers added some Te Arawa flair the others don't have.

"Tomorrow's world-record haka attempt adds to this all being a great fit for Rotorua and we're expecting it to be a fantastic weekend."

The International Rugby Club will be trying to break the Guiness World Record for the biggest haka on Saturday, a record which is currently held by the French with 4100 people participating.

Chadwick said locals would be outnumbered among the 28,500 fans at Rotorua International Stadium on Saturday.

"This weekend will be a boost for accommodation and hospitality providers in particular with spin-off for our tourist attractions. Add the worldwide media and social media exposure and we'll see the benefits beyond the game and beyond the tour."


Friday night's test between the All Blacks and Samoa will be the entree before Saturday's main event.

The only Irish bar in Rotorua - Hennessy's on Tutanekai Street - is expecting more than 1000 people to pack in for tomorrow night's game.

Owner Reg Hennessy told the Herald the partying kicked off on Thursday night.

"The pub was full of Lions supporters, it's half full already early this afternoon. The marquee is fully booked up, so is the convention centre next door."

Replays of the midweek games are playing at the pub throughout the day, and it will open at 7am the day of the game to cater to people who were keen to begin revelling early.

Hennessy said the pub could "handle 1200 people", and they were expecting that many to turn up for the game.

"We're flat out now on Friday afternoon, I can feel it getting busier and things getting more full on now.

"We feel a bit under the pump but we'll handle it, we've done stuff like this before."

A moment's silence will be held before both the Black Ferns-England curtain raiser and Lions-Maori All Blacks games to remember those affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy.