Locals gear up for first Lions Tour match

The first game of the Lions Tour kicks off tomorrow and 2000 international fans, plus 4000 out of towners, are heading north.

They'll join 16,000 vocal Northlanders in Whangarei, bringing both a good time and an economic windfall.

Scotsman Joe Smith can be found in the only Irish pub in town, and says he loves the country.

"My wife used to say when you come back here New Zealand just grabs your heart."

Out the back, extra kegs are ready for the influx and so are the locals.

"Whangarei has become a bit dead and to have new things come it gives a sense of place on the map," one local said.

Winter has hit in the north, and the town's usually quiet this time of year.

Whangarei mayor Sheryl Mai says this could bring an economic ray of sunshine.

"It's estimated between five and seven million dollars for the one game here in Whangarei and that's a significant boost to our economy."

Hotels and Motels are all booked up on Saturday night, with the nearest free accommodation an hour away. All 20,000 match tickets have been sold.

The diehard fans are rolling in this afternoon, including Neil and Alfie from Bristol, who ave saved for four years to get here.

"We are playing the best in the world", Alfie says. "We are going to beat you  that's why we are here."