24 Oct 2011

Crowds cheer on parade of victorious All Blacks

10:33 pm on 24 October 2011

One of the biggest crowds Auckland has ever seen filled the central city to cheer on the All Blacks in a World Cup victory parade on Monday.

For the second consecutive day, Auckland was a sea of black as tens of thousands gathered to cheer on their World Cup heroes.

Officials say between 100,000 and 200,000 people were on the streets to celebrate the All Black's tense 8-7 win against France at Eden Park on Sunday night.

Screams, chanting, haka, and Mexican waves dominated the crowds, which erupted every time a ute filled with players drove by.

Most of the All Blacks got into the spirit, chanting and fist pumping along with the crowds.

The highlight was captain Richie McCaw and coach Graham Henry holding up the trophy fans had waited 24 years to see again.

Midfield back Conrad Smith says the strong show of support means the team's win is now starting to feel more real. Injured first-five Dan Carter agrees, saying it was overwhelming.

Another injured player, Aaron Cruden, says despite his injury he feels on top of the world "and 10 feet tall".

He says he never expected to see so many people turn out for the parade and it's all a bit surreal but he says he's still got his feet on the ground.

Auckland mayor Len Brown says the parade honoured the players, coaches and support staff.

Prime Minister John Key, who also attended the parade, says the win is a boost for New Zealand, in what has been a difficult year.

The victory parade began about 2.30pm, at the corner of Albert Street and Customs Street West, before moving along along Customs Street West and up Queen Street, ending at the corner of Wellesley Street and Mayoral Drive at 4pm.

Customs Street West, Queen Street, Wellesley Street and some other roads in the city centre were closed to traffic.

The World Cup tournament has seen very large crowds turn out around the central city, with estimates of up to about 200,000 people at the peak on opening night.

The All Blacks will take the celebrations to Christchurch on Tuesday with a parade finishing at the Hagley Park fanzone.

On Wednesday the team will take part in the third victory parade through central Wellington.