Strangers hijacked a man's plea for online birthday greetings to his wife, but the viral burst of one-up-manship gave the Hastings woman one of the sweetest gifts imaginable.

Romantic Scotsman Stu Hirst, 32, decided to give his new Kiwi bride Kirsty a present to remember by asking family and friends to post photos of themselves with happy birthday signs. It sparked an online craze, with strangers around the world trying to outdo each other by posting exotic greetings.

Photos were forwarded from far-flung countries including Argentina, Brazil, Cambodia, Japan, Hong Kong, Bermuda, Taiwan, Thailand, Russia, Qatar, India and South Africa.

Kirsty burst into tears when she opened the surprise digital compilation of the messages while on honeymoon at Cape Verde, off the coast of West Africa, on her 30th birthday late last month.


"I got an iPad from Stu as a present and when I turned it on, up popped all these birthday wishes from people in countries I'd never even visited," Kirsty said.

"It was a brilliant thing for him to do and I was really touched by the lengths people went to to make the day so special for me.

"My favourite is a birthday sign with an elephant in Taiwan and I also liked a message from some kids who I don't even know in Auckland.

"There is one from England from a skydiver who took a snap as they were jumping out a plane and one from someone who got into a freezing Scottish loch.

"It was amazing. Stu must be the most romantic man in the world."

Kirsty, a music teacher, met her husband-to-be at a concert not long after she moved to London four years ago. Stu, an IT security analyst, played the drums in her boss' band.