Torrential rain, thunderstorms and the odd hail shower couldn't dampen spirits as thousands of fans turned out for the Junior All Whites' second Fifa U-20 World Cup game last night on the North Shore.
More than 15,000 spectators packed into Albany's North Harbour Stadium for the match against the United States that kicked off at 7pm and saw New Zealand go down 4-0.
Angry ticket-holders for Saturday's opening game faced major traffic problems that meant some missed the first half and others had to journey for hours after the final whistle to get home. But few problems were reported last night.
Herald reporter Scott Yeoman caught one of the extra event buses put on by Auckland Transport to cope with demand. He left downtown Auckland about 5pm and arrived at the stadium in just over 30 minutes. "How quick was that bus trip?" Yeoman tweeted. "Very impressive."
Colleague Susan Strongman took the car from the Albert St office and braved rush-hour traffic. It took about 30 minutes just to reach the Northern Motorway, with "spectacular sheets of lightning" flashing overhead and rain pouring as she crossed the harbour bridge. Strongman eventually found a park and arrived at the stadium just before 6.30pm.
Three separate crashes yesterday evening on the Northern Motorway caused heavy congestion but wouldn't have affected stadium-bound football fans as they occurred in the city-bound lanes.
The crashes were between Tristram Ave and Constellation Drive shortly after 6pm. Nine vehicles were involved with only minor injuries suffered, police said.
Another fan caught a bus from the central city but was surprised when it didn't take the bus lane, instead sitting in heavy traffic to the frustration of passengers.
The man heard the driver say "we aren't allowed to use the bus lanes" but wondered if he'd simply missed the turn-off.
Though the bus wasn't late, it could have been faster, the fan said. "Given the advertising saying, 'don't drive, take a bus' it seemed a bit random."
Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan said 2255 people took the bus to North Harbour Stadium last night, while on Saturday it was about 2700.
He said the percentage of the crowd to use public transport was much higher last night than on Saturday because of a smaller crowd.
Traffic departing the stadium after the match was reasonably smooth with one motorist reporting a 40-minute commute back into the central city and a bus-goer arriving in 30 minutes after a 15-minute wait.
Auckland Transport said bus services cleared stadium-goers within 53 minutes after the match.
Police said the crowd was generally well behaved, with no arrests. But St John said six patients were treated during the game, one in a critical condition due to a medical problem.
Organisers said more than 14,000 tickets had been sold before the match, with motorists setting off early to ensure they didn't miss kick-off.
On Monday, the organising committee expected the stadium to be 75 per cent full. Saturday's opening game between New Zealand and Ukraine was watched by a capacity crowd of 25,000.
Just hours before last night's game, a severe weather warning was issued for Auckland and powerful thunderstorms hit from about 4.30pm, with reports of lightning and hail.
Meanwhile, embattled Fifa president Sepp Blatter is due to arrive in New Zealand in two weeks, it has been confirmed.
Mr Blatter will attend the U-20 World Cup semifinal games in Auckland and Christchurch and will hand out the winners' trophy at the final on June 20 at North Harbour Stadium.
The Trip: Bus v Car
Scott Yeoman - by bus
Just before 5pm:
Set out on foot from Herald office on Albert St to catch an event bus put on by Auckland Transport to North Harbour Stadium.
5.01pm: On the first bus leaving from Quay St, between Commerce and Gore Streets in Auckland CBD. 5.21pm: At Akoranga station and moving along very freely. Won't be long now ... traffic was looking pretty thick as we turned off.
5.38pm: At the stadium already. Rain outside and lightning have people in the bus gasping.
5.58pm: How quick was that bus trip? Just over 30 mins all up, very impressive. Poor @SusanStrongman is still battling Auckland peak-hour traffic.
Susan Strongman - by car
Left the office about 5pm and after about 30 minutes finally got on to the motorway. Harbour Bridge a 10km/h crawl ... spectacular sheets of lightning flashed overhead and rain poured. As a person who usually walks or buses home, driving over the bridge during an electrical storm was quite an experience.
5.40pm: Once I was over the bridge the traffic picked up to about 70km/h max as I headed out towards the Oteha Valley Rd exit. Overpass sign read: "Major event in Albany, expect delays."
5.50pm: The offramp was congestion-free and I arrived at the stadium by about 5.50pm, but finding a place to park was made difficult by a combination of glare, water, darkness and my bad eyesight.
6.20pm: I ended up driving around and finding a free park on the street near Westfield about 6.20pm, before walking five minutes to the stadium - making my journey just shy of one and a half hours.