Adam Gilshnan's passion for rugby and old-school tours has led to a thriving social media community.

He set up the Unofficial: British and Irish Lions 2017 Tour To New Zealand Facebook page a couple of years ago in anticipation of the tour, and the page is now home to a community of more than 7000 rugby fans, sharing information, photos and stories.

"I decided early on it'd be like a one-stop shop for fans," he told the Herald.

"A lot of information was coming out and a lot of fans had questions about tickets, ballots and fixtures and what was on on at each venue so I just tried to make it a place where there was as much information as possible and people could ask questions about what was happening during the tour.

Advertisement

Upon hearing that Lions supporters were having trouble finding accomodation in New Zealand he decided to set up an "Adopt a Lion" page as well, where Kiwis offered up their digs for visiting fans to stay for free.

Lions fans Tim Moss , left and Jason Diaper from Swansea at the Cloud fanzone before the first test between the Lions and the All Blacks. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Lions fans Tim Moss , left and Jason Diaper from Swansea at the Cloud fanzone before the first test between the Lions and the All Blacks. Photo / Jason Oxenham

"It was well reported that a lot of hotels and Airbnbs put their prices up, and [Lions fans] were struggling to find anything and what they could find was very expensive, so I thought how can we help these fans out.

"They've spent lifetime savings a lot of them for a once in a lifetime tour, so I thought back to the old days when you went on a tour and you were billeted out, maybe New Zealanders might be keen to open up their homes for free with that Kiwi hospitality we're famous for.

"People have responded in their droves really, it's been great."

Gilshnan said he spends about three or four hours a day maintaining the pages, and called the positive feedback he has received a "really humbling experience".

"It's morphed into what it has became based on fan feedback.

"I didn't have any expectations for any of it. I thought if people wanted to take it up they would, and I've been really pleasantly surprised with how it's gone and been received."

He was inspired to set up a community-focused page after his own experiences during the 2005 Lions tour.

Advertisement

"We went to the first test in Christchurch and we took some Lions fans under our wing and we've beceome life-long friends, we're still friends to this day. I thought that could happen for other people."

Based in Greymouth, Gilshnan made his way up from the West Coast to Auckland and Wellington for the first two tests of the tour.

"To hear people's stories has been great, it's been so positive. People want to feel involved.

"The tour doesn't come to where I am in Greymouth or Gisborne or Napier like it used to, a lot of people in those areas are putting their hands up saying 'I want to be a part of this'.

He said some people have taken in 20 Lions fans at a time.

"It's been an overwhelming feeling getting the feedback from people. People have said lots of nice things and it's been really humbling and overwhelming, it's been one of the best things ive ever been involved in."

Lions fan Andy Walton told the Herald Gilshnan was the "most amazing All Blacks fan I have ever come across".

"[Lions] fans from all over the UK are indebted to this most outstanding of Kiwis.

Walton praised Gilshnan's "kindess and generosity to help out visiting rugby fans".

"This concept of local Kiwis inviting touring fans into their homes and their lives has been the highlight of my five weeks in New Zealand for this tour."