Prince Charles and Camilla visit New Zealand

Ever since the Queen first stepped ashore in 1953, generations of royals have continued to be drawn to New Zealand.

Ever since the Queen first stepped ashore in 1953, generations of royals have continued to be drawn to New Zealand. This week, Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall embark on a tour of New Zealand for a Royal State visit, exploring the very best of the North and South Islands.    

From wildlife sanctuaries in Dunedin to wineries in Nelson the couple will visit some of New Zealand’s most beautiful and diverse destinations, and experience famous New Zealand hospitality along the way. 

Wellington, North Island – Wednesday, 4 November

New Zealand’s capital city is also home to the country’s biggest arts and culture scene. Wellington is famed for its lively downtown cafés, shopping, nightlife and entertainment as well as a dramatic harbour setting. 

Prince Charles and Camilla began their tour with a traditional Māori pōwhiri or ceremonial welcome at Government House, before laying a wreath at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge also visited Government House in May 2014, their first visit with Prince George. 

Wellington highlights:  

  • Boutique Beer Tasting - New Zealand is known for its award-winning wines, but Kiwis are also beer drinkers and have developed a discerning palate that has prompted a boutique brewery boom. Today there are more than 250 beers brewed in New Zealand - many have won international awards. Sample some of the best on this personalised tour of the capital’s best watering holes with a Kiwi critic. www.wildaboutwellington.co.nz
  • ‘Wellywood’ film capital tour – Wellington or ‘Wellywood’ is the centre of New Zealand’s film industry and the home of film director Peter Jackson. Glimpse behind the scenes and visit the sites where filming began for The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Don't miss a visit to Weta Cave - shop front of the world famous Oscar-winning Weta Workshop.  www.wellingtonrover.co.nz 

Lodging fit for a King - Head to the Cambridge Hotel where Queen Elizabeth stayed in the 1960’s. The hotel is a newly restored heritage building on Cambridge Terrace in Wellington. www.cambridgehotel.co.nz

Dunedin, South Island – Thursday, 5 November

Located on the South Island’s southeastern coast, Dunedin is rich in Scottish heritage, historic architecture and is home to New Zealand’s oldest university. Otago Peninsula has colonies of rare birds that are the focus of world-leading sustainability projects.

The Royal Way: On Thursday (5.11), Prince Charles and Camilla visited Dunedin. Highlights of their visit included the Toitu Settlers Museum and the Orokonui Eco Sanctuary where they will spot some of New Zealand’s rare birds including kaka, takahe, tuatara and jeweled gecko. Prince Charles had a close encounter with one of the sanctuary's Tuatara's, New Zealand's living dinosaur.   

Dunedin highlights: 

  • Go wildlife spotting with Elm Wildlife Tours - For a chance to get up close and personal with New Zealand’s wildlife, including penguins, seals and sea lions and royal albatross. www.elmwildlifetours.co.nz
  • Take a tour at Cadbury World – A must do in Dunedin is Cadbury World, offering an educational chocolate experience with tours including lots of free samples! www.cadburyworld.co.nz

Lodging fit for a King - Kaimata Retreat is a boutique luxury lodge on the scenic Otago Peninsula, just 30 minutes away from Dunedin city centre. The lodge is set in a peaceful rural location with sweeping water views of coastal birds and wildlife. www.kaimatanz.com

Nelson, South Island – Saturday, 7 November

Situated in the north-west of the South Island, Nelson is one of the sunniest regions in New Zealand. Its diverse geography offers everything from long golden beaches to untouched forests and rugged mountains. 

The Royal Way: On Saturday (7.11), the Royal couple will head to Nelson. Here, they will attend the famous Nelson Market, meeting local artists and craftspeople from the region, before heading to a food and wine event. 

Creative design: Her Royal Highness will visit the The World of WearableArt and Classic Cars Museum during the Royal visit to Nelson. Art and cars collide in two exhibition galleries housed in a purpose built, architecturally designed Museum and will take you beyond your imagination into a fantasy land. http://www.wowcars.co.nz/ 

Nelson highlights: 

  • Abel Tasman National Park – Charter a yacht from Nelson and enjoy the coastal paradise of New Zealand’s smallest national park. Endless activities are available to guests such as hiking, snorkeling and kayaking. www.abeltasman.co.nz 
  • Horseback Riding – Throw your leg over a horse and trek across the rural landscapes or along the beach at Marahau. www.truenz.co.nz/horsetrekking

Lodging fit for a King - Eden House is located between Nelson and The Abel Tasman National Park, offering near by golden beaches, native bush and marine reserves. www.edenhouse.co.nz 

Waikato, North Island – Sunday, 8 November

Flanking the mighty Waikato River which flows through the heart of the North Island, the prosperous Waikato farming region has been a tourism destination with an international reputation for at least 125 years. First it was the underground lights of glowworm caverns in the famed Waitomo Caves, now it’s the home of hobbits as featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies.

The Royal Way: On Sunday (8.11) the Royal couple will visit Turangawaewae home to the Māori royal family near the small town of Ngaruawahia. Highlights will include a pōwhiri welcome and the Prince of Wales will salute the waka, or Māori canoes as they pass on the Waikato River.

Waikato highlights:

  • Hobbition – Get lost in Middle Earth and frolic in the shire where Frodo and Bilbo Baggins began their journeys. The Hobbiton Movie Set is set in the lush countryside setting of Matamata and is the country's most-loved Middle-earth attraction. http://www.hobbitontours.com/ 
  • Hamilton Gardens - The gorgeous grounds of Hamilton Gardens were named international garden of the year in 2014 by the International Garden Tourism Network. The gardens are a series of intricate themed landscapes on the banks of the Waikato River.  http://hamiltongardens.co.nz/

Lodgings fit for a King - Lake Karapiro Lodge seduces with its exceptional location and refinement. An architectural masterpiece, this purpose-built, authentic Edwardian Mansion captures the essence of yesteryear with all the trappings of the 21st century.  It radiates warmth and elegance throughout and is meticulously finished to the highest standards. http://www.karapirolodge.co.nz 

Taranaki, North Island – Monday, 9 November

From green fertile lowlands to toy-like towns and rugged coastlines, no region in the North Island has more defined character than Taranaki. The region offers a huge range of activities from multi-day hikes to festivals and award-winning museums. 

The Royal Way: On Monday (9.11), the Royal couple will travel to New Plymouth in Taranaki. Here, they will attend Tea with Taranaki at Brooklands Park before visiting the newly opened Len Lye Centre – a magnificent architectural vision that is home to an extensive collection of artworks created by artist and film maker Len Lye. 

Taranaki highlights: 

  • Pouakai Crossing - Experience the diverse landscapes of New Zealand away from the crowds on the Pouakai Crossing. This self-guided 19-kilometre hiking trail passes through ancient trees, native plants on the flanks of iconic Mt Taranaki. 
  • Surf Highway 45 – Embark on a road trip and cruise one of New Zealand’s themed highways, Surf Highway 45. Hit Taranaki’s best surf spots including Back Beach, overlooking Sugar Loaf Marine Park. www.newzealand.com/surf-highway-45

Lodgings fit for a King - Just over the road from the brand new Len Lye Museum are the gorgeous 5 star rooms at the King and Queen Hotel Suites. King & Queen Hotel Suites is New Plymouth's luxury boutique accommodation offering cutting edge architectural design, European interior, magnificent views located in the city’s arts and cultural hub. 

Auckland, North Island – Tuesday, 10 November

New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland – perched between Waitemata and Manukau harbours – offers a buzzing mix of culture, events, nightlife and restaurants with native rainforest, wild beaches and wineries all within half an hour of downtown. 

The Royal Way: The Royal couple will end their New Zealand trip in Auckland on Tuesday (10.11). They will visit the Nga Rangatahi Toa Creative Arts Initiative as well as the Spirit of New Zealand – an iconic tall ship, whose homeport is Auckland. Prince William and The Duchess of Cambridge also visited Auckland where Catherine beat her husband in an America’s Cup Yacht race across the harbour.

Auckland highlights: 

  • Freefall amidst the skyscrapers – Millions (including Beyoncé) have taken the plunge from Auckland’s Sky Tower, the tallest structure in the southern hemisphere, to enjoy the thrill of a 192-metre jump. www.skyjump.co.nz 
  • Wining and zip lining on Waiheke – Dubbed the ‘Hamptons’ of New Zealand, just 35 minutes ferry ride from the mainland, Waiheke is a haven of art, sculpture, wineries and contemporary boutique hotels – and in true New Zealand style, home to its own flying fox zipline www.ecozipadventures.co.nz 

Lodgings fit for a King - Built in 1841 as one of Auckland’s first hotels, the historic Hotel de Brett has been transformed into one of the country’s leading design hotels www.hoteldebrett.com.

Alternatively check into the five-star Sky City Grand Hotel whose rooms (including the suitably named Premium Luxury King Suite) have spectacular views across the harbour www.skycityauckland.co.nz

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