1000km and McCaw to go
Thousands of rugby fans will pass through Timaru in coming weeks, but few could say they have cycled through 28 countries to get here.
Former Londoners Jodie Burton and Tom Hudson began their Rugby World Cup journey from London's Twickenham Stadium in May last year.
They have since cycled 27,000km while promoting their project Buddy Up and have 1000km to go before they complete their mammoth journey in Auckland.
Although their goal was to reach New Zealand for the RWC, their main objective was to establish Buddy Up, which makes connections between rugby clubs in remote and underprivileged parts of the world with clubs that are thriving and prominent.
Ms Burton said the reality of their challenge hit home not long into their journey. "We thought what are we doing? We nearly turned around about 10 times before we even got down to Dover."
But determination prevailed and the pair have battled their way through -25 degrees Celsius temperatures in China, sweltered in 45C in Iran and cycled within a few kilometres of Osama Bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan.
Mr Hudson said their journey had had its share of highs and lows – the lowest being China where the thought of giving up crossed their minds more than once.
The couple had crossed into China from Pakistan just before the road was closed for winter, however, they were in the middle of nowhere and had only a tent to shelter in. The nearest town took them three days to reach.
"We nearly gave up thousands of times in China. It made the Australian Outback look quite populated – there was just nobody out there. It was 10 times worse than any other point of this trip."
Despite the challenges, the pair agreed there had been hundreds of highlights throughout the journey.
"Obviously, getting to New Zealand was quite a big thing for us because it's been such a long time talking about the Rugby World Cup and knowing we'd be in New Zealand [for it]. We knew [when we set off] it would be so far away," Mr Hudson said.
The pair have been relaxing at Holme Station homestead before the last leg of their journey.
They are meeting All Black captain Richie McCaw on Sunday to give him the opportunity to sign a scroll of signatures they have been travelling with.
The scroll has been signed by 44 people from 30 nations, but only those who have made an impact on the sport have had the privilege of signing it. Ms Burton and Mr Hudson will gift the scroll to the New Zealand Rugby Museum in Palmerston North.
And when their journey does come to an end the couple plan to move to Melbourne, grateful they do not have too far to travel to go home once the RWC is over.
They predict New Zealand will beat Australia in the final, which is why they want McCaw to sign the scroll.
The Timaru Herald