These are the rugby grounds where future All Blacks are made.
Heartland New Zealand is where some of our biggest names in rugby make their debut on the field. Our beautiful country must be the only place in the world where rugby fields are set against the backdrop of the ocean, jaw-dropping mountains and the high country of the South Island.
Rugby under the mountains
The rugby pitch at Terrace Downs in Christchurch is set in the foothills of the Southern Alps, making it one of the most picturesque in the country. Photo via Vaughan Mundy.
Welcome to McCaw country
Welcome to Richie McCaw country: Kurow is where the former All Blacks captain grew up. His childhood was that of a true Kiwi farm kid: riding tractors, fishing for trout and playing rugby. Photo via Kyle Beck.
Pitch maintenance at Tainui Rugby Club
This shot of the Tainui Rugby grounds in Mokau shows what heartland rugby in New Zealand is all about. Sheep maintain the field against the backdrop of the ocean.
Tony Willis has played rugby on the field and says: "It gets hot so after the game we hop in the sea." Photo via Dan Oatridge.
Early morning Kiwi ritual
Early on Saturday morning, thousands of Kiwis are preparing for a ritual. Volunteers, rugby players and supporters make their way to the rugby pitches across the country.
These tough Kiwis brave the cold South Island winter and face the frost to take part in the national religion - with the true believers eating oranges at halftime. Photo via Riki Palatchie.
Beach side rugby
Pieces of driftwood can also prove to be goalposts as this photo from the Bay of Plenty shows! Photo via Craig Berry.
Not just the South Island
Our epic backdrops are not just reserved to heartland New Zealand. The pitch at Rangitoto College in Auckland overlooks the Hauraki Gulf and Rangitoto Island. Photo via Kyle Lagerwall?.
NZ's most beautiful ground
Some say the most beautiful grounds in the world are in Queenstown - and as these photos show they look stunning in winter and in summer when the cricket players take over the pitch. Photo via Paul Steele.