The DHL New Zealand Lions Series 2017 finished with the visitors having played all the New Zealand Super Rugby teams, the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians, the Maori All Blacks and three tests against the All Blacks.
But it has been much more than rugby. For the six weeks of the tour New Zealand has been awash with red as the huge influx of Lions supporters has travelled the country while following their team.
The British & Irish Lions arrived at Auckland International Airport on May 31, where they were welcomed with their first traditional Maori welcome and responded with their own muscial offering.
More than 20,000 Lions supporters travelled with their team as they embarked on one of the most gruelling rugby challenges of them all, a series in New Zealand. As motor homes travelled up and down the country following The Lions, New Zealand turned on the hospitality with a festival of rugby themed events and fan zones.
Throughout the tour the British & Irish Lions were surrounded by displays of Maori culture including a powerful pōwhiri (Maori welcome) on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, in Northland, featuring 400 Maori warriors. Showing an immense respect, the Lions always responded with their own songs from home. Since the official welcome, Lions fans have been flooding the Treaty Grounds, many of them saying that they decided to visit after seeing TV footage of the welcome.
Records were broken in Rotorua ahead of the match with the New Zealand Maori All Blacks when over 7,000 people, including a large number of travelling supporters, took part in the world's largest haka which is expected to make it into the Guinness World Record book.
Seven New Zealand cities, from north to south, hosted the British & Irish Lions during the tour and all of the games were close to a sell out with some completely full.
Host cities were Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua and Wellington, in the North Island – and Christchurch and Dunedin, in the South Island. The Lions Tour was the biggest sporting series to be held in New Zealand since Rugby World Cup 2011.
Many other regions welcomed supporters to come and visit. Wairarapa, north of Wellington, hosted French referee Romain Poite at Pukaha Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre. They also held an exhibition of rugby photography involving past All Blacks and Wairarapa Bush players by renowned sports photographer Peter Bush.
Te Kuiti, a small country town in the Waikato, erected a statue in tribute to hometown hero Colin Meads and dubbed themselves 'Meadsville' for the entire Series.
The New Zealand Rugby Museum in Manawatu's Palmerston North City reported an influx of visitors during the two weeks from 26 June - 9 July, many of them wearing red.
Taking in some much needed rest and relaxtion, the Lions squad visited Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital and tourist mecca. Heading up The Skyline Gondola the group took in views of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountain range before luging their way to the bottom. The team also experienced the Shotover Jet, one of New Zealand’s most thrilling jet boat experiences - following in the footsteps of Prince William and Kate during their time in Queenstown. Nomad Safaris 4WD took the Lions deep into the back country of the rugged Central Otago wilderness giving the team a different perspective on the region.
- New Zealand Provincial Barbarians 7–13 British and Irish Lions
- Blues 22–16 British and Irish Lions
- Crusaders 3–12 British and Irish Lions
- Highlanders 23–22 British and Irish Lions
- Māori All Blacks 10–32 British and Irish Lions
- Chiefs 6–34 British and Irish Lions
- New Zealand 30–15 British and Irish Lions
- Hurricanes 31–31 British and Irish Lions
- New Zealand 21-24 British and Irish Lions
- New Zealand 15-15 British and Irish Lions
The International Rugby Club
The International Rugby Club organised and succeeded in the breaking the world record for the world’s largest haka in Rotorua during the New Zealand Lions Series. The organisation is an online club connecting the global rugby community through good times, goodwill and authentic experiences. In a true showing of manaakitanga (hospitality) The International Rugby Club has acknowledged the outstanding spirit and dedication of the Red Army by inviting 2000 fans to join their club free of charge.