With less than 80 days to go until kick off for the first All Blacks game in Auckland in the DHL New Zealand Lions Series, three All Blacks took some time out from training to share their favourite things to do in Auckland.
The British & Irish Lions are returning to New Zealand for the first time in 12 years, bringing the best players from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Auckland is hosting three matches at Eden Park – two test matches taking on the All Blacks, 24 June and 8 July, plus a highly anticipated match against the Blues on 7 June.
About 20,000 Lions fans are expected to descend on Auckland, and while all eyes will be on the rugby on game nights, the region offers plenty of action off the field too.
All Blacks' props Charlie Faumuina and Ofa Tu'ungafasi, both Auckland locals, are well equipped to share some of their inside knowledge with the visiting Lions fans.
Faumuina, grew up in South Auckland, about 30-40 minutes' drive from central Auckland, and is a regular visitor to some of the beaches out there, often stopping at the Sunday markets at Otara to pick up food.
"I love that there's always something happening in Auckland and it caters for everyone. It's a super multi-cultural place and there are always events on and things to do. When we have visitors here we like to take them up the Sky Tower, and then to Mission Bay to show them how easy it is to go from the city to the beach."
Tu'ungafasi also enjoys making the most of Auckland's stunning outdoors.
"I love to drive around Auckland and go for road trips to check out new places, beaches, and all the parks," he says.
"I love Cornwall Park, it's a great place to get an awesome view of the city."
While not from Auckland, All Blacks' loose forward Elliot Dixon, does try to make the most of his time there whenever he's up from the South Island for training and games.
"I think it's refreshing how much variety there is here. I enjoy the café lifestyle, and finding new places to eat which Auckland definitely isn't short of. I also enjoy the shopping. I always need to get presents for the family and Auckland has all of the big brands."
All three are looking forward to the coming Lions Series.
"I remember the last Series being so exciting -- everyone was out and about watching the games. Everywhere you went, people were talking about it and just getting involved. It was awesome," says Dixon.
Both Faumuina and Tu'ungafasi can't wait for the opportunity to play against the Lions and meet some of their fans.
"The British & Irish Lions have such passionate fans following them," says Faumuina. "I can't wait to see them road tripping around New Zealand in their campervans and hope they have a great time."