Diamond party touches down

REGAL ARRIVAL: Prince Charles  and his wife, Camilla, arrive at the RNZAF base in Auckland for the start of their tour of New Zealand.
REGAL ARRIVAL: Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, arrive at the RNZAF base in Auckland for the start of their tour of New Zealand.

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla arrived in Auckland last night to begin their six day visit, which will include a triple birthday celebration.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force plane arrived at Whenuapai Air Base about 9.50pm with the royal couple on board and a small group of British press.

The heir to the throne made his way down the aircraft's stairs in a sprightly fashion while Camilla, dressed in a cream poncho and nude heels, followed carefully behind.

They were greeted by John Key and his wife Bronagh, Minister of Maori Affairs Pita Sharples and his wife Arapera Sharples, Mayor Len Brown and the Chief of Air Force Air Vice Marshal Peter Stockwell.

The Royal New Zealand Air force band performed the national anthem before Charles routinely inspected the guards, stopping to talk to some briefly.

During his inspection, Key appeared to have a colourful conversation with the Duchess of Cornwall.

Key later told a media mob waiting on the tarmac Camilla was a personable woman who was easy to talk to.

"She said they had a great time in Australia, but a lot of rain apparently, so I [told her] the weather has been good here," Key said.

"She has never been to Australia or New Zealand before so she is looking forward to spending time here and acquainting herself with New Zealand."

During their visit, Charles will celebrate his 64th birthday on the same day as the Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae and Bronagh Key.

The couple's visit will also include meeting with the prime minister, looking at some horses in Palmerston North, checking out Hobbit costumes at Weta Workshops and presenting the "Supreme Animal" award at the Canterbury A&P Show - which must all seem a bit of a letdown after Australia, where they watched the Melbourne Cup, patted a kangaroo and Prince Charles wore a bushman's hat.

Yesterday, Prince Charles revealed to riveted Canberrans that he doesn't carry cash and he dunks Tim Tams in tea.

Alyson Richards, 25, was one of hundreds who came to see Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall unveil a tribute to Queen Elizabeth, a newly renamed road, on the last leg of their Australian tour.

Happy birthday for next week, she told Prince Charles as she gave him a packet of Tim Tams. "You're very kind," he replied. "What I've discovered is that you have to dunk them."

And asked for a charity donation of $10, Prince Charles revealed he never carried cash.

As royal visitors go, Charles and Camilla are clearly a poor substitute for the rather more glamorous Wills and Kate, but for those who still fancy a bit of royal proximity, here are few of the places you might catch them:


Tomorrow - Auckland

Just after noon, in Auckland harbour: Charles will take a trip from Devonport to Mechanics Bay with the Coastguard.

Early afternoon, downtown: Charles and Camilla will walk from Lower Queen St to Queen's Wharf.

Wednesday - Wellington

1.30pm, on the waterfront. The duo will walk from Taranaki St Wharf to Frank Kitts Park.

4.30pm, Government House. Charles' 64th birthday bash.

Thursday - heading north

12.20pm at the Feilding Farmers Market in Manchester Square. Rural walkabout.

Friday - Christchurch

Early afternoon at the clock tower. At 1.10pm the pair will visit the Diamond Jubilee clocktower, followed by the Cashel St Mall and the Dance-o-Mat.

Later, walkabout at the 150th Canterbury A&P Show.

For the royals' full itinerary, see www.diamondjubilee.govt.nz

- Fairfax NZ and APN

Sunday Star Times