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Official Review by Blair Hughes, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Wellington, New Zealand's 'Cake Tin' Regional Stadium, or for naming rights Westpac Stadium, was opened in 2000 and hosts rugby union matches from the local Wellington Hurricanes to the New Zealand All Blacks national team, along with international cricket and major concerts. The stadium holds 34,500 fans and is located right in the heart of the city, with easy walking options from local hotels and the CBD. The main train station is located directly below the stadium's forecourt entrance, and provides easy access for fans coming and going to and from the stadium.
The venue gets its name from the interesting silver style cake dish design from Fletcher Construction, and was built to replace Athletic Park, which was no longer considered adequate for international events due to its location and state of disrepair. The stadium was also built to provide a larger-capacity venue for One Day International cricket matches.
With an exciting array of international flavours, innovative technology, and a world class pitch, this is New Zealand's premier sports experience that showcases the best of the best when it comes to what fans want from a sporting event.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Interesting, flavoursome, and creative dishes inspired by New Zealand's unique style are featured at Westpac Stadium, and include everything from tasty bratwurst, zesty noodle boxes, and local seafood options to everyday classics like chips, pies, and hot dogs. The addition of craft beer options is a highlight, and this is one of the only stadiums in Oceania to feature craft beers.
The food and drink quality is second to none, especially when it comes to the craft beer options supplied by local Wellington brewery Garage Project, who worked with local team Wellington Phoenix to put fans first and have craft beer in the stadium. The food is exceptional and is fast and easy to order, and includes really unique options such as local Kiwi pies.
Soft drinks are featured throughout the stadium, with everyone's favourite L&P being a highlight for fans and outsiders, like Australians crossing the ditch for matches. Craft beer is only available on select game days, but is to be highlighted as a very good feature given many stadiums do not offer this.
The spicy bratwurst roll washed down with a Garage Project beer is a must do at Westpac Stadium.
Witnessing a rugby union international match here is a sight to behold. A sold out crowd in full voice, in the chill of a freezing New Zealand night, is a must watch experience for any fan. Seats are comfortable and sight lines are very good here. The fan engagement around the ground is always entertaining, and features stadium projections that show the level of innovation Westpac Stadium is investing in for its fans.
The multi-purpose round stadium is a fan's dream, given the sight lines and ease of access. Seat sizes are ample, and access into the stadium is easy due to large concourses. Lighting and stadium design are modern, and the playing surface is top notch with new grass being installed very soon. Premium areas for members are plush, with gourmet food options, cosy seating, and incredible views overlooking the field.
The stadium projections are a must see, and will leave kids amazed at how a giant animal can leap across the outside facade of the building. Game day promos with free giveaways are abundant, and the activations are a perfect photo opportunity for fans of all ages.
Westpac's Stadium's magnificent design means that any seat here is a good option, due to the elevated pitch seating positions and the location of food outlets and exits.
Westpac Stadium is extremely close to the CBD, which makes walking to and from a downtown hotel easy. The neighbourhood is also safe and secure with ample lighting, security, and police presence. Abundant parking options are available at the stadium, and local restaurants pepper the route to it, so fans can always find some tucker along the way.
While in Wellington fans must check out the local breweries, many of which have non alcohol options for little fans. I strongly recommend Garage Project, Little Beer Quarter, Black Dog Brewery, and Parrot Dog, but the list goes on. A must try for burgers is the incredibly tasty American brioche bun offerings at Burger Liquor.
The Wellington Cable Car soars over the heights of Wellington for a measly $7, which includes the free cable car museum. Also the spectacular walk up to the top of Mount KauKau is not to be missed, just make sure to bring dirty clothes and stable shoes. A train ride ($4) out and about to see the local area is also a nice thing to do while in town.
There are many accommodation options in Wellington, from 5-1 star hotels to backpackers that also offer private rooms. Boulcott Suites is a fantastic option, while Trek Global Backpackers is affordable and offers everything a budget traveller could need.
Excited fans are a highlight of a visit to Westpac Stadium, given the choice of events and high level of entertainment on offer for them. Fans are loud and loyal, and as is typical of Kiwi fans, they are passionate and enthusiastic when it comes to the on field action.
Typical attendances range from 20-35K depending on the event, with major test match internationals being mostly sell outs.
Fans here are loud, and that's mostly due to the success of the international rugby team and the All Blacks consistent winning record. Fans stay involved cheering for the teams throughout the game, and are often up and about yelling and screaming for their team, which excites fans around the ground.
Westpac Stadium is a world class stadium with world class facilities. This facility sets the standard for international stadiums, and includes many features that other venues have not caught up to yet, including very easy to read wayfinding signs, disability access, and helpful stewards.
Public transport is a breeze here due to the fact that the main Wellington station is directly adjacent to the stadium. It only takes a few minutes to access the ground from the station, and fans can come via other parts of New Zealand and only walk a small distance to get to Westpac Stadium.
Parking is an option underneath the stadium, but it is just as easy to walk to the ground, or catch an Uber or take a train. Be very careful parking near the stadium on public parks, as you could end up with a fine.
The main gate is the main entry point for Westpac Stadium, but there are many other entrances too, so it is easy to get in. Once you are inside, the stadium has both covered and outside areas to walk around, so it is easy to find your seat even if it is raining. Staff are on hand to help usher you to your seats, and there are food options on offer all around, as well as ample toilets.
A venture out to Westpac Stadium is one of the best days out you could have in Wellington. From innovative fan engagement to world class facilities and food & drink options, this stadium is setting the benchmark for venues worldwide.
The craft beer options are to be commended, and featuring local brewers is a good thing for the community as well. The projections are also pretty amazing, and showcase the technology that went into the construction of this venue. In addition, being able to see such a great club as the All Blacks here is a definite plus.
The Cake Tin is a must do sporting adventure if you are in Wellington, New Zealand, and represents an outstanding fan experience.
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280 Lambton Quay
Wellington, New Zealand 6011
(64) 4-472 2199