The Prince – who has travelled from Wellington, Christchurch and Stewart Island to the river city of Whanganui – finished his tour in Auckland, footing it at an event celebrating the build-up to the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2015.
The Cloud – an events hub on Auckland’s thriving downtown waterfront – was transformed with all the key ingredients of a football tournament, giving fans a taste of what’s to come during the tournament which will be held in seven New Zealand host cities from 30 May – 20 June, 2015.
A keen fan of the ‘beautiful game’ Prince Harry captained Team New Zealand made up of lucky young footballers in a five-a-side game against a team led by Junior All White Adam Mitchell, in front of an audience of schools, clubs and volunteers who will take part in the prestigious tournament.
New Zealand football royalty Ivan Vicelich – who was awarded the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup Bronze Ball for his heroics during Auckland City’s Club World Cup campaign – stepped up as referee.
Unsurprisingly the Prince didn’t take his duties lightly, showing plenty of skill as he fired home the winning goal to see his team take out the game 8-7.
Beyond the pitch
Beyond the pitch, outside on Queen’s Wharf, Prince Harry took time to meet some of his loyal supporters during his only public engagement in Auckland, before paying a visit to High Performance Sport New Zealand’s National Training Centre.
Auckland put on a glorious day fit for royalty, making it a perfect ending to Prince Harry’s first tour of New Zealand – a tour that has seen the 30-year-old capture the hearts of a nation who’ve truly embraced him as one of their own.
In an interview with a local television station, Harry found it hard to pick a single highlight of his trip, but said he was amazed by the welcoming nature of New Zealand and its people.
“The welcome that I’ve had has been typical Kiwi I suppose. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. It’s been fantastic,” Harry said.
“We managed to cover every corner of New Zealand and meet so many different people, from different backgrounds. From a personal point of view, to be invited down to the marae in Whanganui, that was just huge respect for me.”
“The whole trip has just been epic fun.”
When asked what he thought about New Zealand and its people Prince Harry said Kiwis were “an amazing group of people, with fantastic culture and background in a beautiful, beautiful country.”
Auckland ready to party
Auckland is preparing to host the biggest football party New Zealand has ever seen. The FIFA U-20 World Cup 2015 kicks off at the QBE Stadium on 30 May and the first game, between host nation New Zealand and Ukraine, will be the opening chapter in one of the world’s greatest sporting events.
In preparation for the tournament ‘Fever Pitch’ fan hubs have been set up in each host city.
Auckland’s Fever Pitch hub on Queens Wharf will feature an enclosed football pitch for fans to play on in one of City of Sails’ prettiest and most easily accessed settings.
There are so many epic adventures to be found around Auckland during the three-week tournament, but some of the top places to experience the fun of the football fiesta, apart from the game itself, will be undoubtedly on Auckland’s vibrant waterfront.
The Viaduct Harbour is one of the best places in Auckland to wine, dine and unwind. There’s a vast array of bars, cafes and restaurants, and it’s the central hub for water-based adventures.
Auckland’s waterside buzz continues into the newer Wynyard Quarter, a stretch of chic cafes and eclectic bars beside the green urban oasis of Silo Park, or the eternally cool Britomart Precinct – a favourite for great Kiwi retail, bars and restaurants.
About FIFA U-20 World Cup 2015
Seven host cities across New Zealand will host some of the most talented rising stars of the world game at the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, New Plymouth and Wellington in the North Island will host games, while Christchurch and Dunedin will represent the sport-loving South Island. The schedule sees four pool games played in two of the seven host cities daily - with plenty of double-header football action to whet the sporting appetite.
During the three-week tournament (30 May - 20 June, 2015) New Zealand will play host to 24 international teams, with a total of 52 matches played.
Broadcast to more than 100 countries, with a global reach of around 170 million people, the FIFA U-20 World Cup will also help promote New Zealand to the world. Thousands of overseas football fans are expected to travel to the country in support of their team.