With a month to go before the All Blacks host Tonga in the opening match of the World Cup, interest has increased in South Africa, New Zealand's deputy high commissioner Georgina Roberts said on Tuesday.
"There has definitely been a rise in excitement in recent weeks and a lot of that has to do with the Tri-Nations and other international matches that are taking place," Roberts said.
Roberts said the New Zealand High Commission in Pretoria had managed to deal with a number of queries from Bok fans looking to visit the South Pacific country.
"Enquiries have increased, particularly with regards to visas. Fortunately, South Africans travelling there for tourist purposes do not require a visa, and that makes it really easy for them to get there and support their team," she said.
Roberts said earlier surveys indicated that approximately 8,000 South African residents would make the trip across the Indian Ocean. The Springboks could, however, expect greater support at their matches due to the high number of expatriates that now called New Zealand home.
According to Roberts, many people would be combining the World Cup with an opportunity to visit relocated relatives. Those fortunate enough to make the trip, she said, would not be disappointed.
"New Zealanders are known for their great hospitality and they have been waiting in great anticipation to host this event and therefore everything has gone according to plan," she explained.
Roberts said World Cup fever in South Africa would shift up a notch when the All Blacks take on the Springboks in a Tri-Nations clash in Port Elizabeth on August 20.
she said: "The High Commissioner will attend the Test in Port Elizabeth where a large contingent of All Blacks supporters are expected to turn up as it might be their last chance to see the team ahead of the World Cup.
"We all know that the All Blacks have many supporters in this country, and that match will give all those who will not make the pilgrimage to New Zealand, myself included, the opportunity to wish the team good luck," added Roberts.
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