Maori Wardens were forced to step in to help get stranded revellers home from town, hours after the British Lions and Maori All Blacks match.
As the city bars closed in the early hours of Sunday morning people calling for a taxi were told they faced a two to three hour wait for an available car.
Some visitors from the other side of the world were left in pouring rain, with no idea how to get back to their accommodation.
Rotorua Taxi Society chairman Ken Driver said even if they had 1000 taxis they couldn't have handled the demand.
"There were so many calls, we just stopped taking the calls," he said.
"People were doing the right thing, calling a taxi and not driving drunk, but we were still going till 6am.
"In cases like this it's just too much."
Mr Driver said the Maori Wardens and police stepping in to help was the best case scenario.
Rotorua Maori Warden community volunteers began offering rides home to people wandering the CBD.
Until 5am in the morning they took people home for free, including as far afield as Lake Okareka and Ngongotaha.
One Maori Warden volunteer said they transported about 60 people.
"Everyone was lost and there were no food outlets open except McDonald's," he said.
"Our van went back and forth picking anyone and everyone up."
Lions fan Oliver Stuchbury, said he wasn't worried about being stuck in town because it felt safe.
"It was more of an inconvenience and annoying because it was raining and it would have been a long walk," he said.
"A two hour wait at 4am is a bit of a joke, so I definitely think they should have been better prepared.
"We all got home at the end of the day so it all worked out well I guess."
Rotorua police area prevention manager Inspector Stuart Nightingale said having thousands of people who had been drinking alcohol left wandering the streets in the early of the hours of the morning was potentially a recipe for disaster.
However, he said Rotorua should be given credit because there were no reports of major crime or victimisation during this period.
"I'm sure the transport industry was working as hard as it could to get everyone home and the work the Maori Wardens did to help is so invaluable."
Mr Nightingale said police had extra staff working from the Western and Eastern Bay districts, as well as the Traffic Alcohol Group. He said some police officers took Lions fans who had too much to drink back to their accommodation.
Marketing manager for New Zealand Taxi Cabs, which operates Taxi Cabs Rotorua, Bruce Rainey said they couldn't put any extra cars on the road.
"We don't have that freedom," he said.
He said under current New Zealand legislation taxi companies were not able to bring in drivers from other cities to cover busy events.
"We have the same thing at New Year's and things like that," Mr Rainey said.
The company took bookings two or three weeks before the game and the system was loaded with people who had booked ahead.
"Looking into free buses for big events could be a good idea," he said.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council transport marketing advisor Simon Neate said they offered free travel on all 11 of the regular Cityride routes for the day but that stopped before 7pm.