Royals make waves in Auckland

ROB KIDD
Last updated 05:00 11/04/2014

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet wellwishers in Blenheim as part of their tour of New Zealand. Paul Chapman reports.

Royal tour Day Four
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PORTRAIT: Catherine stands beside a new portrait of the Queen after she and Prince William unveiled it at Government House.

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Today's royal visit looks set to make a splash in Auckland.

It might not have the heart-in-mouth drama of the America's Cup but - just as they were in September - the nation's eyes will be focused on the water, as William and Kate go head to head in the city of sails.

The royal couple land at Whenuapai air force base just after 11am where they will meet military top brass.

That will be followed by a leisurely drive to the Team New Zealand base in central Auckland, before the competition starts.

At 1pm, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will compete in match-race sailing on former Team New Zealand yachts for a couple of hours and, according to weather forecasters, the conditions should suit it.

Unlike San Francisco, where the America's Cup was blighted by light winds, Auckland looks set to turn up a decent breeze.

MetService forecaster Dan Corbett said today's forecast had looked ''a bit grim'' earlier in the week but he expected the ''main lump of rain'' to hit the Coromandel and Bay of Plenty, rather than Auckland.

Predicted westerly winds of 10-15 knots were unlikely to cause a capsize, Corbett said.

The coastguard said it would treat it as a normal day and Maritime New Zealand said it was not involved in the event, instead deferring to the police's maritime unit.

However, the police were keeping details of today's operation top secret.

''We don't discuss security arrangements for such events,'' a spokeswoman said.

''Suffice to say planning for the royal visit has been under way since the visit was confirmed and there are sufficient staff and arrangements in place to ensure the safety and security of visitors and members of the public who wish to take advantage of the scheduled opportunities to see them.''

Though there is likely to be a bumper turnout, local schools were not expecting mass absences.

Ponsonby Primary School principal Dr Anne Malcolm said she had not heard much about students planning a day off but was not forbidding it.

''If our parents want to take their children to go and see people like the royals, or the All Blacks or the America's Cup, I think you just say 'fantastic, that's families getting together','' she said.

Kelston Primary School principal Cliff Hughes said the royal visit had not taken his school by storm either.

''I don't think it's a big hit in our community. I haven't heard much talk about it,'' he said.

Organisers will be hoping Wills and Kate enjoy the water.

At 3pm, once the yachting is over, they will be zipped over to Hobsonville Marina on an amphibious craft used by the military called Sealegs.

The best chance for a glimpse of the glitzy duo is likely to be at the Viaduct Basin along Beaumont and Jellicoe streets and in Karanga Plaza.

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