Thousands turned out in central Christchurch today to celebrate the All Blacks' World Cup win – even construction workers downed tools for the occasion.
At times the streets were covered with people keen to catch a glimpse of their rugby heroes. But amidst all the hoop-la and cheering there was a quiet nod and wave between a father and his World Cup-winning son, both acknowledging the end of an era.
"I actually caught up with [Dan Carter] for a meal, and he said he was very pleased to be here and it's been great," father Neville Carter says. "But it's basically a bit of sad times really."
There was certainly no sign of sadness as the fleet of utes rolled down Rolleston Avenue and onto Park Terrace.
It almost felt as if the whole city had come to a halt – construction workers lining the route downed their tools and yelled their support. Everyone was keen to catch a glimpse of their favourite player or even take a photo with him.
Three days after Carter was named World Rugby's Player of the Year, he was happy to be home.
"It's an amazing feeling," he says. "We had a great day yesterday in Auckland for the parade, but a few of us Cantabrians were pretty excited about today coming down here and celebrating our success with all these amazing fans down here in Christchurch."
Defence coach Wayne Smith coached the Crusaders back in the '90s and has been a part of big parades before.
"I remember back in '98 we had the first Super Rugby parade up Colmbo Street," he says. "There were 100,000 [people there]. I think there's more here – [it's] outstanding."
Tomorrow is Wellington's turn, but they may be hard-pressed to top the turnout by rugby-mad Christchurch farewelling one of its favourite sons.