Wellington Rugby Sevens: twice the fun

Ninja turtles, Neanderthal cavemen, Wonder women, US sheriffs and flocks of two-legged sheep are just some of the outrageous costumes you might see at one of New Zealand's most popular annual rugby events, the NZI Rugby Sevens.

The NZI Rugby Sevens takes place at Wellington's Westpac Stadium in early February each year.

The event, which invariably sells out within minutes of tickets going on sale, attracts more than 34,000 visitors who contribute to a lively carnival atmosphere that reigns over the city for two days.

Party atmosphere

While everyone comes to enjoy the excitement of the game, many also come for the party atmosphere that the Wellington leg of the international series has become renowned for.

Creativity is high on the agenda as groups of supporters dress in themed costumes, transforming the stadium into a sea of colour and imagination and filling it with roars of encouragement for their teams.

After a day at the NZI Rugby Sevens, many supporters and players head into town to celebrate. The streets of Wellington's entertainment quarter are closed to traffic and the partying lasts well into the night.

IRB Sevens World Series tournaments 

The Sevens variation of rugby union is played under the same rules of rugby, however each game runs for two seven-minute halves, with the final being played over two 10-minute halves.

The IRB Sevens World Series tournaments started in Hong Kong in 2000. Eight tournaments make up the IRB series, with Wellington hosting the third leg.

At the NZI Rugby Sevens, 16 international teams compete for points that go towards the world series.

Tournaments are also played in George (South Africa), San Diego (United States), Hong Kong, Adelaide (Australia), Twickenham (England) and Edinburgh (Scotland).

'Creative Capital' 

In Wellington, lovers of fine ale, great wines and food are spoilt for choice. Known as 'the creative capital', the city has a reputation for its vibrant café culture, world-class restaurants, public art works and distinctive architecture.

This compact city, built on hills around a picturesque harbour, has a real heart in the downtown city area. It's easy to get around with many shops, museums and galleries, parks and government buildings all within walking distance of one another.

Attractions include Te Papa - national museum and art gallery, Civic Square, the cable car, Botanic Garden, Zealandia - Karori wildlife sanctuary, Parliament buildings and the waterfront with its writers' walk and quirky architecture.