When Team New Zealand won the America's Cup in San Diego in 1995, Sir Peter Blake spoke of his dream to turn Auckland's neglected Viaduct Basin into a cup village.

By the end of 1998, the dream became a reality with the completion of 11 syndicate bases, Te Wero Island and public viewing areas, a harbour entrance and wave protection walls - and a wave of restaurants and bars.

Some restaurants, like the landmark Soul Bar & Bistro, have been there nearly as long the as super yachts and the highs and lows of the Auld Mug being lifted aloft by Sir Russell Coutts.

The cup village was opened on October 10, 1999 and by the time the 152-day party ended about 4.2 million people had visited, including more than 600,000 people from overseas. Aucklanders visited the cup village an average of 6.7 times during the regatta.


Bright yellow water taxis conducted half-hour tours of the Viaduct and the largest fleet of super yachts ever seen in the Southern Hemisphere and a combined value of $1 billion sailed into town for the regatta.

A stage with a giant screen and seating for 3300 was set up and the Exponents, Split Enz and Phantom of the Opera star Michael Crawford were among the star performers.

More than 60,000 people celebrated Team New Zealand's fifth and final win against Italy's Prada and despite the high numbers, everyone enjoyed a safe and memorable occasion.

Writing in Britain's Daily Telegraph, Tim Jeffrey said: "The place is buzzing. Auckland's enthusiastic, knowledgeable population has made this a terrific event."

The cup also spurred $600 million of private investment in developing 1100 apartments and 50 new bars and restaurants. The arrival of 65 super yachts generated about $245m in business, much of this for the marine industry.

Three years later, the elation of 2000 turned to disaster when Alinghi, skippered by Coutts, beat Team New Zealand 5-0 and the cup left town.

Syndicate Row, where the bases were located on Halsey St, became a battleground between Auckland City Council, which wanted land used for six America's Cup bases for more open space and a marine stadium, and developers.

The developers won, despite a survey in 2005 showing 77 per cent support to convert the bases into public space. The Team New Zealand base is now the site of a $300m luxury hotel under construction.


Urban planner Dr Joel Cayford, who has studied Auckland and Wellington's waterfronts, says if a similar study was conducted today he would expect even stronger support for more good quality public open space on the waterfront.

Today, the Viaduct Harbour is a well developed waterfront area of mostly expensive apartments, restaurants, bars and office space, alongside Wynyard Quarter where the 2021 defence is set to become the new cup village.