Northland cricket fans were bowled over at the sight of the World Test Championship prized silverware brought to town by local hero and Black Cap Tim Southee yesterday.
Southee's home green, Cobham Oval in Whangārei, marked the first stop in a nationwide tour giving Kiwis the chance for a close encounter with the Mace trophy and the sportsmen who won it.
The week long celebration of the Black Caps momentous victory over India in Southampton will travel the country's length to Invercargill with 10 planned stops to different cities on the way.
A queue of fans spilled from inside Cobham Oval and down Okara Dr as hundreds of people waited to meet Southee and Black Cap teammates Ajaz Patel and Will Somerville.
Whangārei born Southee, 32, was one of the country's youngest cricketers to debut internationally at the age of 19.
He said it was awesome to be able to show young sportspeople in his home town how far you can go.
"...I've been in these kids' shoes, I've been their age, it's nice for them to see someone who's come from here and who has done a cool thing."
Ten-year-old Vince Walker and his younger brother Zak, 7, left their Kerikeri home with dad Scott at 7.30am to be first in line to meet the cricketing greats.
The Kerikeri Cricket Club youngsters, who made their foray into the sport three-years-ago, were both excited to see the Black Caps in person, Vince said.
Whangārei's Cameron Goldie, 72, has spent "years and years" cheering for New Zealand's best cricketers competing on the international stage.
He was delighted to be able to see the silver and gold Mace in the flesh.
As was 39-year-old Nitesh Singh, originally from Fiji but now living in Whangārei, who "never" thought he'd get to be up close with one of cricket's most prized trophies.
Te Horo School principal Sandra Toapuho had initially planned to bring every pupil from her rugby loyal school in Pipiwai to the event but unfortunately the bus driver had been unwell.
However, undeterred, she and other staff scrambled to fill a van and car with students so they could be a part of such "an important opportunity" the kids "would never forget".
"...our children, and all children, need role models. To come along and have someone local like Tim Southee is inspirational."