Former Black Cap Chris Cairns was briefly speechless with emotion as he ended his 1001km rail safety awareness walk yesterday at the site where his sister was killed 15 years ago.
He blamed the tears in his eyes on the blustery wind, but needed the comforting presence of his mother, Sue Wilson, to stop him from breaking down.
"It has been very physically and emotionally tough," he told The Press as he ended his two-week expedition at Rolleston, south of Christchurch, where his sister, Louise, 19, was killed when a truck hit the train on which she was a passenger.
The August 1993 accident also claimed Wendy Gilbert, 21, and Joanna Peat, 16.
After walking the last few kilometres to the site of the accident together, Cairns and Ms Peat's parents had a brief hug.
"It's been very emotional for us, as you can imagine," said Ms Peat's father, Alistair Peat, 57. He and his wife, Margaret, 53, live in Christchurch.
"This is a great cause, and let's hope we can save some lives."
Cairns, 38, said he was "pretty buggered" from his trek, during which he suffered swollen feet and blisters, and lost a number of toenails.
"The mental side of it I wasn't worried about. I'm a pretty stubborn bugger," he said.
While passing through Wellington, Cairns spoke to Prime Minister Helen Clark about promoting the rail safety message.
"If we could get a government commitment to having a rail safety programme, that would be great," he said.
KiwiRail chief executive David Jackson said since 2003, there had been 89 railway fatalities in New Zealand, but he hoped Cairns' work would help reduce deaths.
"The true effect of this work isn't going to be known. How would you measure the worth of this great gesture?" he said.