Herald reporter Heath Moore spent five weeks in a Maui campervan following the Lions fans.

As the referee blew full time on what has been a mammoth Lions series there was an eerie feeling around Eden Park.

It was a finale no one had picked - a series draw. Confusion ran through the minds of fans as neither men in black or red understood how they should feel. Elated? Devastated? Angry or content? As one Lions fan said the result summed the tour up perfectly - "six weeks full of surprises."

For an hour after the game the bars in Auckland's CBD had an uneasy feel about them. It was a time of reflection for Lions fans. A moment to stop and recap not only what happened on the field, a series draw, but the joys and jubilation off it.


While Lions supporters were swift in celebrating a series draw, many were brutally honest about the final decision in the third test.

"As much as I hate to say it, it was a penalty," Joey Ward explained.

"I don't know what made the referee change his mind but it's a bloody relief. When he originally gave a penalty I thought that's the series gone and another 12 year wait."

It's the Lions' second best result in New Zealand and the fans celebrated accordingly.

As Sweet Caroline rang out through the pubs Lions fans swung back into song and toasted to a brilliant six weeks by downing their pints.

But in many ways rugby has been a sideshow. The Red Army was showered with generosity from locals around the country. From opening their homes to free fishing trips, supporters staying with All Black Rieko Ioane, and the most ardent of fans made a guest appearance in Northland club rugby against Rene Ranger, our friends from the UK will leave New Zealand with not just a taste of rugby down under but the everlasting memories.

British & Irish Lions fans go crazy during the final test. Photo / Alan Gibson
British & Irish Lions fans go crazy during the final test. Photo / Alan Gibson

In Rotorua fans experience a traditional Maori welcome and a delicious hangi while others headed south to the slopes of Queenstown.

Red Army member Alex Marchant described the six week whirlwind tour as "a trip of a lifetime", a sentiment felt by many of our Northern brothers.

Some may have branded All Blacks supporters as sore losers after the second test but Lions fans were left with heartfelt tears of joy with how welcome kiwis made them feel.

Six weeks and 35,000 Lions fans later the tour has come to an end.

Come next week it won't be the scoreline that will be remembered but the camaraderie between rival fans and the friendships that'll last a life time.

They may not have won the test series but Lions fans have forever won the heart of New Zealand.

• Heath Moore travelled in a campervan provided by Maui, who had no control over editorial coverage.