Prince William, Kate and George charm Kiwis
KEVIN NORQUAY, SIOBHAN DOWNES AND TOM HUNT
Resplendent in red, the Duchess of Cambridge stood out against the Wellington gloom, with the little prince royal-watchers were waiting to see on her hip.
The door of the Royal New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757 had opened tantalisingly then halted as the welcoming party stood on the tarmac with the wind whistling through their clothes.
Bronagh Key, the Prime Minister John Key's wife, had to hold on to her hat to stop it blowing away while Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown's mayoral robes were blown askew.
Then they were here.
Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge on the left and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge on the right carrying baby Prince George down the stairs.
They arrived at Wellington Airport shortly after midday, defying low cloud that has caused flight disruptions in the capital.
A small group of people watched through a fence as misty rain swirled around the airport.
"Oh lovely, she looks gorgeous doesn't she?" gushed one onlooker.
The duchess was wearing a a red knee-length coat and maroon pillbox hat.
George was dressed in cream and was bare-headed in the Wellington wind, but he looked unperturbed.
The duke wore a suit with a maroon tie and as the royal trio reached the tarmac cheers rang out from a group of onlookers, who had stood behind the security fence for more than an hour.
The duchess' coat was designed by Catherine Walker, while the hat was by Gina Foster.
She also wore a brooch given to her by Queen Elizabeth. The Queen herself was given the brooch during her 1953-54 tour of New Zealand.
After meeting Key and the welcoming committee, little time was wasted getting the royals out of the wind and into their limousine for the short journey to Government House.
There, the royal couple shrugged off the wind and drizzle with grace. Getting out of the car, the duchess was offered an umbrella which she politely refused.
George was taken inside while his parents went through the formalities in weather that must have made them feel at home.
The royal couple were greeted first by kaumatua from the Governor General's office, who explained the protocol of the Maori welcome.
The prince was then issued with a traditional Maori challenge by the New Zealand Defence Force Maori Cultural Group, followed by a kapa haka by students from Rongotai College.
Governor-General Jerry Mateparae and his wife Lady Janine then greeted the pair before a 21-gun salute and an inspection of the guard.
Before going inside Government House they were also greeted by local school children.
Inside a function featuring VIPs, staff and local mayors awaited.
'I DO WISH HE HAD BEEN WEARING A HAT'
Edna Hurd broke into the national anthem as the royals drove past the crowd.
"I just think it's great," she said.
"Kate looks lovely in her red, even in this weather."
She was concerned about baby George's attire.
"I do wish he had been wearing a hat in this cold," Hurd said.
She would head home for a cup of tea and to email to her sister-in-law to say she had seen them.
"I can't wait to gloat."
Breaker Bay man Colin Archer was nonchalant about the fuss. He was accompanying his wife, who was keen to spot the royals.
"I saw them last time," he said.
"I always get to see everyone interesting for some reason."
He had been in a pub during Charles' and Diana's tour in 1983 when someone shouted, "the royals are outside" and he rushed out to see them driving past.
"My wife will be really annoyed if she doesn't get to see them this time," he said.
Earlier, there was some suggestion the flight could be diverted, with the most likely option being the Ohakea air force base in the Manawatu.