Rugby: World Cup-winning Black Fern Ruby Tui stars in Greymouth Christmas Parade

It's an annual event, but this year's Greymouth Christmas Parade had a very special gem make a guest appearance.

World Cup-winning Black Fern Ruby Tui returned to her hometown to take centre stage in the event.

The athlete with a red stripe in her hair, sharing the limelight with the big man in red.

"It's been a while since I did a lap around the main streets," Tui told Newshub.

Ruby Tui, Renee Holmes and a young fan.
Ruby Tui, Renee Holmes and a young fan. Photo credit: Getty Images

A Greymouth local answering the call to come home.

"I'm only here because of my friend Jess Cole, she never asks for anything and said it would be cool if I could come down for this, so come back home and have some fun," she said.

And Coasters loved having the award-winning Black Fern back in town.

"We're very lucky to have her here today, I think the kids are all really excited about it," one local woman said.

While another local child described Tui's visit as "awesome".

"We're so thankful for her to come, she is like a local hero to our children," said Grey District Mayor Tania Gibson.

But Tui isn't the only top athlete this mining town has produced - sevens great Tim Bateman, Commonwealth Games squash gold medallist Paul Coll and ultramarathon runner Ruth Croft all hail from the Coast.

"It does rain a lot on the Coast and currently it's raining talent and that's sporting talent," said sporting coach Josh Komen.

 "They're shining bright on the international stage and we're very proud of them," 

The extreme weather the coast is known for creates the perfect training ground.

"Everyone knows what hardship is like around here, they really do and they want to see good, they want to see positivity, and when they see an athlete with potential everyone gets around them," added Komen.

Athletes feel the support from the community too.

"If you do well not just in sport, but you go into the supermarket, you go to the pool, the pharmacy, people congratulate you like they really get behind you," said trail runner Ruth Croft.

"I think that makes a difference like when you compete internationally you want to do the coast proud."

The sentiment is echoed by Tui.

"I'm so grateful for it, I think coming from a small town is a treasure."

A national treasure bringing the gold back to the place where it all began.