Govt ditches RWC travel package plans
Last updated 17:13 06/05/2011
The Government has ditched plans for a travel package for South Island fans wanting to attend Rugby World Cup matches moved from Christchurch after February's 6.3 quake.
Christchurch had been set to host two quarterfinals and five pool matches but quake damage to the 38,000-seat AMI Stadium and the city's hotels and infrastructure was deemed too great.
Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully said in March the Government was discussing a special travel package to help ticket holders travel to Auckland on an "affordable basis".
But Mr McCully today indicated the Government would not be making any special travel arrangements, saying no further steps were planned.
The Government had discussed options with Air New Zealand and had considered using air force 757s, but decided against those options.
Mr McCully said that over recent weeks it had become clear many fans had already made arrangements to travel to Auckland.
"Where fans haven't done so yet the commercial market still has good value fares and is able to meet the likely demand out of Christchurch. We do not plan to take any further steps at this stage."
About 3000 people had bought tickets to the quarter final games in Christchurch, and about half of those people had since booked flights to get to the games in Auckland, a spokesman for Mr McCully said.
Ticket-holders who were refunded for the Christchurch matches will get first dibs on tickets to the transferred games, with sales opening on May 16. Sales to the wider public will follow mid-year.
Mr McCully said he expected a number of Christchurch ticket holders would be keen to renew their tickets for the quarter finals in Auckland in particular.
Finding accommodation in Auckland would also be an issue for many fans, he said.
A new website initiative between the Government and TradeMe would allow Christchurch fans to find free billet accommodation in Auckland.
"The intention is to find free accommodation for any Cantabrian who has a ticket to the matches now reallocated to Auckland," Mr McCully said.
TradeMe expected to have the site up next month and would promote it to its 2.7 million members.
Mr McCully said Aucklanders had shown "a great deal of support for Cantabrians since the earthquake".
"This will be another way of showing their support. The TradeMe service would be free for both accommodation seekers and providers."
Aucklanders will submit their accommodation listings as classified ads, allowing Cantabrians seeking a place to stay to contact them through the TradeMe system. The two parties could then make arrangements directly.
Christchurch residents not going to any matches could attend fan zones and festival events organised by Christchurch City Council and Rugby New Zealand 2011.