In Wellington, hundreds gathered at the Rugby World Cup fan zone by the waterfront, where live music performances kicked off proceedings ahead of tonight's big screen broadcast of the opening ceremony.
Wellington City councillor John Morrison, who holds the council's sports and events portfolio, was among the punters waiting for tonight's entertainment to kick off.
He said Wellington was a great place to be for the tournament and it was "all starting to heat up".
"I think we're as well placed, probably better placed than anyone else in the country, to have a really good time over the World Cup," he told APNZ.
"You can feel the atmosphere around town and there's a lot of excitement and tension."
The fan zone could accommodate about 3000 people and Mr Morrison was hopeful it would fill to capacity.
A family fan zone had been set up by the Michael Fowler Centre, while hundreds were also expected to crowd into Wellington's bars in popular spots like Courtenay Place.
Many at the main fan zone were decked out in black but there were few Tonga fans in sight, with many visitors seemingly looking forward to Wellington's first match in which the Springboks play Wales on Sunday.
Among them was Springboks fan Dillon Grant, who arrived from South Africa this morning and had forgone sleep to join in the festivities at the fan zone.
"It's awesome, everyone's so spirited with the rugby. And it's also really cool seeing how many other Springboks supporters there are here - it's like you're still in South Africa," he said.
Mr Grant said he had seen fewer Wales fans around Wellington, which was a good sign for Sunday.
Among the Wales supporters were young Wellington locals Finn Harland, 6, and his brother Oliver, 4, who had chosen to adopt the team for the World Cup because they liked the red dragon on the Welsh flag.
Father Cameron Harland said he was impressed with fans' friendliness and "the whole idea of being a good host".
He would be gunning for the All Blacks tonight and Wales on Sunday.
"I get the sense that the Welsh are going to be quite good fun. They tend to travel quite well and I think they've got good supporters."