For party-loving, rugby fans Wellington is "sevens heaven" where sport and pleasure combine in an international tournament that provides memorable action on and off the field.
The Wellington Sevens rugby tournament, which kicks off at the city’s Westpac Stadium on 5 February, has become one of New Zealand’s premier annual sporting events and the one with the biggest reputation for fun and frivolity.
Each year the popular two-day tournament is a sell out, and this year all 38,500 seats were snapped up within three minutes, setting a new New Zealand speed record for sales.
2010 anniversary festival
2010 marks the 11th anniversary of the Wellington Sevens, and the capital is promising an even bigger "festival of fun" with events, concerts and activities during the tournament and in the days leading up to it.
The Wellington tournament is one of the eight that make up the International Rugby Board (IRB) Rugby Sevens Series, and 16 international teams will compete.
The capital city becomes engulfed in a carnival atmosphere for the two-day tournament, which falls across Waitangi weekend - New Zealand’s national anniversary holiday.
Famed for being a massive dress-up party, the event inspires some weird and wonderful costumes with fans trying to outdo each other and vie for attention in the stadium.
Competing teams and rugby fans will parade through the streets of central Wellington on 4 February to set the mood for the event.
A fashion competition to find the best dressed will be staged outside the Wellington Railway Station on 5 February, and prizes for the more inventive or brave costume wearers will be awarded throughout the weekend.
Celebrations to mark Waitangi Day on 6 February will be held in Waitangi Park, on Wellington’s waterfront, with kapa haka, dance displays, multicultural acts and other attractions.
Market stalls will offer the chance to taste a traditional hangi and other delicacies from a series of multicultural food stalls, and live bands will play in Courtenay Place during a street party during the evening.
Sevens rugby rules
The fast-paced Sevens tournament is played under the laws of the game of rugby, with Sevens variations that are framed by the IRB.
The 16 teams are split into four pools. Play on the first day of the tournament consists of pool matches on a round robin basis. Points are awarded for wins, losses and draws and go towards each team's final tally.
Following pool matches on the first day, first and second placed teams in each pool progress to the Cup Championship. The third and fourth placed teams of each pool progress to the Bowl Championship.
The cahmpionship games are played on the second day, and all teams are moved into a knockout phase. The winners of each game move into semi finals, then finals.
The winner of the tournament is the team that has moved through all their games on day two with no losses.
Teams are made up of 12 players - seven on the field during the match, with a reserve bench of five.
Each game runs for two seven-minute halves with a two-minute half time. The final game of the tournament is two 10-minute halves.
The NZI Sevens is often called New Zealand’s biggest party and, as well as enjoying the rugby, visitors use the event as a chance to enjoy the capital city’s legendary night life and entertainment.
One of Wellington’s key features is that everything in the downtown area is within walking distance.
Fans can enjoy on-field action at Westpac Stadium and, with an easy 20-minutes walk, easily rejoin Courtenay Place and Cuba Street in the downtown area where tiny, tucked-away bars, quirky cafes, award-winning restaurants and buzzing nightlife provide plenty of off-field entertainment.