New Zealand has delivered a right royal dose of culture, conservation, community and colour as Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall followed their royal itinerary throughout the North and South Islands this week.
From a wildlife sanctuary in Dunedin to an open air market and a winery in Nelson, the royal couple have visited some of New Zealand’s most beautiful and diverse destinations, and experienced New Zealand hospitality along the way.
It was Prince Charles’ ninth visit to New Zealand, and the second for the Duchess of Cornwall.
Since their arrival in Wellington last Wednesday (4.11.15), the royal couple have had a busy schedule visiting Dunedin, Nelson and Westport in the South Island, and Auckland, Hamilton and New Plymouth in the North Island.
From the pomp and formality of official welcomes to relaxed walkabouts among the crowds, Charles and Camilla have had opportunities to meet the locals and get a taste of some of New Zealand’s finest flavours and destinations.
Their Wellington visit began with a ceremonial welcome at Government House, wreath laying at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park and a surprise guest appearance on the steps of Parliament at the capital’s welcome home parade for the triumphant All Blacks team – fresh from their 2015 Rugby World Cup success.
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.
The Royal progress
Thursday (5.11.15): Prince Charles and Camilla arrived at Dunedin’s elegant Flemish Revival railway station on board the Taieri Gorge vintage railway, setting the scene for a visit to Toitu Otago Settlers Museum while the Scottish forebears who founded the ‘Edinburgh of the South’ gazed down from the walls. At Orokonui Ecosanctuary, in the hills just beyond Dunedin, Prince Charles had a close encounter with another old timer – the tuatara, a unique New Zealand reptile which is described as a living dinosaur.
Located on the South Island’s south-eastern 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.
Saturday (7.11.15): The royal tourists moved to Nelson for a day out in the sun with visits to the busy open air craft and artisan market, the amazing and curious World of WearableArt Museum, and a taste of some of the Nelson Tasman region’s finest produce at Mahana Estate, a vineyard and winery in an idyllic coast setting.
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.
Sunday (8.11.15): Their Royal Highnesses received a full ceremonial welcome from the Māori royal family at Turangawaewae, in the Waikato region of the North Island. Highlights included a massed haka and a salute from the Māori warriors manning a fleet of waka (canoes) on the Waikato River.
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. It is also the home of the Māori king.
Monday (9.11.15): The Royals travelled to New Plymouth, in the North Island’s Taranaki region. They were treated to a high tea 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.
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-
Tuesday (10.11.15): Charles and Camilla will end their New Zealand trip in Auckland with a visit to the Nga Rangatahi Toa Creative Arts Initiative and the Spirit of New Zealand – an iconic tall ship, whose homeport is Auckland.
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.