New Zealand's commemoration of the Gallipoli centennial starts on the Auckland waterfront on Friday when the Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth sets up a "poppy wall" which will sail with the ship to Turkey.
The 2m-high wall in the shape of "100" will be at the entrance to Queens Wharf from the time the ship arrives at 6am that day until 5.30pm, when it will be loaded on board for the two-month trip to Gallipoli.
New Zealanders are invited to leave poppies on the wall to represent the 2700 Kiwis who died in the original Gallipoli campaign that began in April 1915.
One New Zealander, Conservation Department journalist Herb Christophers, 62, has been invited to sail free with his wife, Marguerite, as "custodians" of the wall. An Australian couple will join them in Sydney next week. Other passengers on the voyage are paying $24,000 for a couple.
The invitation was "a huge surprise" for the Christophers.
"I was totally flabbergasted," Mr Christophers said. "Less than two weeks ago the phone call came out of the blue."
He said Cunard's tour organisers read a book called Poppy Boys by Invercargill writer Lynley Dear, which was based on the story of Mr Christophers' Southland grandfather Reginald Christophers and three of his brothers, who all died in World War I.
The family are not named in the book because Dear did not know there were any surviving relatives. But Mr Christophers read a review of it, recognised his family and contacted the author, so when Cunard asked her for a relative, she pointed them his way.
He will write a blog about the trip, which will take in Asia and the Gulf before sailing through the Suez Canal and up to Gallipoli.
He and his wife will then visit the grave of his great-uncle Victor Christophers, who is buried on the headland's North Beach. They will fly home on April 28 at Cunard's expense.
"I've always kept it in my mind as being something fairly special and felt I owed a debt of gratitude to those young men who died all those years ago," he said.
"I wondered what I was going to do this year and I thought I could go to Southland Boys' High School and be part of their commemorations, because they do it every year.
"So this is really quite amazing. I'm now desperately trying to get ready."