A wife took a block of her husband's favourite Lancashire cheese on an epic 24,000km, 10-country journey after being grounded by the Icelandic volcanic eruption.

Olwyn Green decided to buy a 3.6kg roll of white Lancashire Crumbly while visiting relatives in Preston, northern England, and carry it back for her husband Jim's 75th birthday.

But the travel chaos caused by the volcanic ash meant Olwyn had to embark on a massive road and rail journey through Wales, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Denmark to her son's home in Sweden.

From there she was able to catch a flight through the United Arab Emirates on to her home in Oamaru.

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Green, 60, said the cheese had "achieved celebrity status" by the time she reached Sweden.

"Jim was absolutely delighted. It was his 75th birthday while I was away and my intention was to stick some candles in this cheese and have him blow them out, but by the time I got home I was so fed up with all the delays I was more than happy to just get home and put the cheese in the fridge and let it rest like I did."

Green says the Lancashire Crumbly is much nicer than similar cheeses on sale in New Zealand.

"There's no substitute for it, so my husband says. You can buy a product here that's much more expensive and not as nice in 200g packs.

"I looked on the Customs website to make sure I could bring some in. I wasn't going to cart an 8lb [3.6kg] piece of cheese round that I couldn't bring in."

After the marathon journey the cheese was fine, but Green says she was a "wreck".

The couple, who emigrated from the UK 32 years ago, had a ceremonial 'opening of the cheese', and have shared it with their ex-pat friends. The rest has been cut up and frozen.

Green said despite all the hassle the cheese caused, at £26 ($53) for the whole round, it still worked out much cheaper than buying it in New Zealand.

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- ADDITIONAL REPORTING: OAMARU MAIL