Northland's first Olympic medal winner in 16 years is planning to relax, catch up with friends and family, and enjoy the buzz of his silver medal win.

Blair Tuke, of Kerikeri's Opito Bay, was given a hero's welcome on Thursday when more than 3000 people lined the streets of Kerikeri for a tickertape parade.

Accompanying him were his teammate in the 49er class, Peter Burling from Tauranga, and Kerikeri laser sailor Andrew Murdoch.

The trio knew a welcome had been planned but were amazed by the size of the crowd - more than half the town's population - and were visibly moved by the haka powhiri performed at the Domain by students of Kerikeri High School's kapa haka group.


Tuke said he knew a family friend was organising "a bit of a welcome. But we didn't think it would be like this, with the whole of Kerikeri High School and primary students coming up from Kawakawa.

"It was cool to see so many friends and family in the crowd, and seeing how proud everyone was of what we've achieved. It made us feel proud to be New Zealanders and to be from Kerikeri."

Burling, whose family hails originally from Whangarei and whose grandparents live in Kerikeri, said the parade outshone all the other welcomes so far. "This is by far the biggest crowd in the smallest community," he said.

Burling is heading to Croatia to compete in a foiling moth sailing champs, but Tuke's goals for the next few weeks are to relax and savour the moment.

Tuke said: "Pete and I have a lot of opportunities coming our way but we're not going to rush into anything. We're going to enjoy this. It's not every day you win a silver medal.

"I'll also catch up with friends and family. We've been pretty selfish over the past four years - now it's time to give something back."

A keen spearfisherman, Tuke is also hoping get back out on the water soon - but this time for some serious fishing and freediving.

Thursday's parade was organised by Kerikeri business owners.