The clouds lifted just long enough in Wellington for Prime Minister, John Key, to greet the royal family at Wellington Airport. They were then whisked to Government House to be met by the Governor General, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae.
Light rain didn’t put a dampener on the ceremonial welcome on the grounds that began with a traditional Maori welcome (powhiri).
The Duke was greeted with a hongi by Lewis Moeau, Government House kaumatua (Maori elder) and the Duchess by Hiria Hape, Government House kuia (female elder), who then explained the protocol on what is Catherine’s first visit to New Zealand.
As a 21-gun salute rang out across Wellington, the Duke inspected a Guard of Honour and the band played both countries anthems.
Beginning in Wellington, the nine-day royal visit will take in three North Island regions and three South Island regions. It will cover a snapshot of New Zealand, from ceremonial events and hosted functions to the thrills and 360-degree spins of a Shotover jet boat ride, duelling on Auckland harbour in two America’s Cup boats, wine tasting in Central Otago and a showcase of some of the country’s unique innovation and world-renowned activities.
For the 150 international media following the royal family, Wellington is also looking forward to showing off its thriving arts and culture scene, boosted by Sir Peter Jackson who put the city on the movie map with The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films, which have won multiple Oscars and Bafta awards.
Wellington’s café and dining scene is also world famous with the capital city relishing having over 300 bars, cafes and restaurants, which means it can boast more places to eat and drink per capita than New York.
The royal family are now going to spend the next couple of days resting and will begin their tour on Wednesday with a visit to Plunket, a not-for-profit organisation that has been helping young Kiwi families learn the ropes of parenting for over 100 years.