Upbeat Warren Gatland already showing influence on Lions after respectful response to traditional Maori welcoming

In case you missed it, the British and Irish Lions arrived in New Zealand for their six week rugby tour yesterday - arguably the toughest mission they've set out on in their history.

But there's already something different about this side.

In almost a complete opposite to 12 years ago, the current day squad mixed and mingled with fans at Auckland Airport, leaving no doubt their Kiwi coach, Warren Gatland, has already had a big influence.

The Lions skipper says today’s welcome was a great introduction to Kiwi culture for his squad. Source: 1 NEWS

After the rousing welcome and challenge came a response to the traditional powhiri, with players fresh off the plane even showing respect to patient fans with time, smiles and autographs.

Gatland appeared to be upbeat as well.

"[It's] always pretty special coming home, really excited," he said.

On his third Lions tour as either assistant or head coach, Waikato stalwart Gatland is in a prime position to share his understanding of New Zealand.

The Kiwi coach says it's important the Lions players 'get an understanding of NZ, the people, their humour'. Source: 1 NEWS

"That's been part of my job," he said.

"Just prepping the guys what to expect culturally - I know from the experience [of the 2011 World Cup] a lot of the teams arrived here very unprepared over what was going to happen."

Gatland says the first challenge he faces now the squad has finally arrived is to create harmony in the group and then let that team feeling reflect on and off the pitch.

"If we can win some hearts and minds off the field and play some good rugby we're going to end up with a cracking tour."

The Waikato stalwart has implemented his understanding of Kiwi culture on the side. Source: 1 NEWS

'We had a bit of banter'– Warren Gatland jokes about getting secrets off his Blues' player son Bryn for Lions' clash

Gatland's Lions play the Blues next Wednesday but his son Bryn will turn out for the Auckland side. Source: 1 NEWS


Watch: Hello luv! Warren Gatland hugs wife after long absence, after touching down in New Zealand

The special moment when Lions coach Warren Gatland was reunited with wife Trudi, after a long absence, was caught on video today.

Trudi Gatland remains living in New Zealand while her husband coaches Wales, making today's reunion extra special. Source: 1 NEWS

Trudi Gatland has been living in New Zealand in recent times, while her husband coaches Wales, making today's reunion extra special.

After a Lions official thanked the Maori group which welcomed them with a powhiri, the Lions players sang a melodious song in response. Source: 1 NEWS

The Lions skipper represents the squad on their arrival in New Zealand today. Source: 1 NEWS

The British and Irish Lions touched down today at Auckland Airport. Source: 1 NEWS

More video from today's arrival of the British and Irish Lions.