It’s all about Auckland for 2017 Lions

British & Irish Lions fans would do well to learn a thing or two about Auckland - after all, the travelling cohort will be spending plenty of time there in 2017. [more]

It’s all about Auckland for 2017 Lions

British & Irish Lions fans would do well to learn a thing or two about Auckland – after all, the travelling cohort will be spending plenty of time there in 2017.

If the Lions are to leave the Land of the Long White Cloud victorious, they will need to beat the All Blacks at Eden Park at least once.

With both the first and third Test matches at the venue, Auckland will twice be the temporary home of the red army in the space of a couple of weeks.

That is not all, however, with the tourists set to make an early stop in the North Island city for a clash with the Auckland Blues.

As well as building confidence and fitness ahead of the three-match Test series, that stop will be a good chance for the Lions to assess the lie of the land – and there is plenty to explore.

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Auckland, known as the City of Sails because it has more boats-per-head than any other city in the world, offers something for everyone.

Those wishing to toast the end of the tour can do so in one of 80 vineyards, producing chardonnay, merlot and cabernet sauvignon wines.

Many of Auckland's restaurants, meanwhile, offer Pacific Rim cuisine – a fusion of Pacific and Asian flavours – and reflect its quality sea and land produce.

Alternatively, if watching the Lions was not enough of an adrenaline rush, Auckland boasts plenty of high-octane attractions, such as bungy jumping off bridges or the Sky Tower – the tallest structure in the southern hemisphere at 328m.

Auckland's rugged west coast is the perfect place to try canyoning. Deep in the heart of the Waitakere rainforest, visitors can abseil down waterfalls, jump off cliffs into deep pools and slide down smooth natural hydro slides.

The Sky Tower is home to three observation levels, which offer 360-degree views of the city and the chance to 'skywalk' around the outside or 'skyjump' 192m in the air.

And should those that wish to embrace the culture of the only city in the world built on an active volcano field, there is plenty opportunity for that too.

Manukau city in South Auckland has the world's largest Polynesian population, which is celebrated annually at the month-long Pasifika Festival.

More than 18 Maori tribes have had claims on Auckland at some time, while it was British missionary Samuel Marsden, in 1820, who became the first known European to explore the Hauraki Gulf.

Varied cultural tours offer a first-hand experience of Maori culture. Tamaki Hikoi has an Auckland walking tour guided by local Ngati Whatua people who share their knowledge of the land, Maori history, iconic landmarks and places of historical significance.

Auckland War Memorial Museum houses the largest and most valuable collection of Maori taonga (treasures) in New Zealand. The museum's Maori culture performances – among New Zealand's leading cultural experiences – are the face of the Ngati Whatua o Orakei, the home tribe of Auckland.

Navigate Tours offer intimate experiences on Auckland's west coast, often involving traditional food and hospitality, while Potiki Adventures specialise in urban, contemporary tours demonstrating how Maori culture is relevant in today's world.

Fans are now able to guarantee their place on the 2017 Tour to New Zealand with a fully refundable £250 Priority Access Pass for the official supporter packages. Guarantee your place at the front of the queue when ticket-inclusive travel packages go on sale during the 2015/16 season, and also receive an exclusive invite to meet the Lions Head Coach before their depart for New Zealand. With exclusive access to special events, flights and hotels, it's the genuine Lions experience – click here for more details.

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