Auckland has come out to party in the first of the All Blacks victory parades, with the team welcomed to wild scenes as the World Champions show the spoils of victory off to New Zealand’s biggest city.
All of the All Blacks hit the streets in utes and trucks today, with hundreds of thousands turning out to cheer the 2011 Rugby World Cup Champions.
Richie McCaw and his troops defeated France 8-7 in the closest World Cup Final in history last night, and there were more than one pair of sunglasses hiding what were likely to be tired All Blacks eyes this afternoon.
The final also could be confirmed as the most watched television event in New Zealand’s history, with total viewing numbers this morning coming in at a peak under 2 million, with over 1.5 million watching the closing ceremony.
The audience for the opening match of the Rugby World Cup, between the All Blacks and Tonga, had an average of 1,635,800.
Auckland Mayor Len Brown said that he expected 100,000 to turnout for the parade, but estimates put that figure at close to a remarkable quarter of a million.
The parade started at the corner of Albert St and Customs St West, moved along Customs St West, and slowly made its way up Queen St, ending at the corner of Wellesley St and Mayoral Drive.
The All Blacks were stunned at the turnout.
Some players expected “a couple of thousand” to come out and party, but those numbers were multiplied by hundreds.
The victory parades continue what has been New Zealand’s biggest party, and the conclusion is like having your favourite cake given to you at the end of the celebration, with the All Blacks proudly showing off a Webb Ellis Cup not won since 1987.
McCaw was still on top of the world beaming as he held the little Cup.
"It's such a small trophy but what it means is huge," he said.
"It's pretty awesome. I'm blown away by the amount of people who are out.
“It means so much to everyone who supports the team and is a Kiwi at the moment. We're so pleased we've got it in our hands. It wasn't until turning up here we understood what it meant."