Ryan McNaught's first Lego set was a little blue boat that cost 29c.

It was a gift from his grandmother, Hazel, and he was 3 years old.

Ryan, now known as "Brickman", can still recall the excitment he had piecing it together and playing with it. He's now one of just 14 Lego Certified Professionals in the world with a team of seven called Brickman, who are kicking off the New Zealand leg of interactive Lego exhibition Wonders of the World.

Ryan, from Melbourne, says he wasn't completely Lego-mad during his youth. It wasn't until he was a father of twin boys that his interest in Lego really spiked.

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Becoming a certified profession was an "accidental career" he fell into after doing a few jobs for Lego as an IT technician (Lego certified professionals is a community-based programme made up of adult hobbyists).

"I was asked to work on some of their projects and I kept getting asked and it just grew and grew ... it wasn't like I sat down and thought 'right this is what I am going to do', it just sort of evolved."

Ryan was working long hours and something had to give.

"So you sit down and think 'do I do my normal job' or 'do I sit down and play with Lego'. It's not a hard decision, it's a pretty simple one."

At the Wonders of the World exhibition, kids and adults will get up close to Lego versions of world famous landmarks including a giant Lego Arc de Triomphe, Empire State Building with King Kong, Big Ben, Leaning Tower of Pisa and even Michelangelo's Statue of David.

Ryan's favourite is the Statue of David. Brickman's biggest creation was the giant 10 metre high Christmas tree in Auckland central a few years ago.

Ryan says the exhibition will appeal to all and it is also very educational. "The kids think they are going to a Lego exhibition but secretly they are going to learn about ancient and modern wonders of the world."

The exhibition

Wonders of the World Lego exhibition is coming to Mount Maunganui following a two-month run at the Auckland Museum.

More than 170,000 Lego lovers have already visited the Wellington, Hamilton and Auckland Brickman Wonders of the World exhibitions.

Opening at Baypark Stadium on Saturday, June 30 until Sunday, July 22, the exhibition boasts 50 models, taking visitors on a hands-on, educational journey through history.

Wonders of the World took Ryan McNaught and his Brickman team a staggering 4944 hours and more than seven tonnes of Lego bricks to build.

"The exhibition is super interactive with lots of hands-on activities (in eight interactive zones) for Lego fanatics of all ages to get involved in," says Ryan. "Brickies will have the chance to build a statue of themselves next to the mighty Statue of David, build cars to drive around the Arc De Triomphe, add their own Lego fish and coral to our Great Barrier Reef and heaps more."

● Tickets from ticketek.co.nz