Prime Minister John Key's son, Max, has gone to China with Mr Key for the ride - a visit which will see him take in the Great Wall, have a cooking lesson and visit an all-girls' school.

Mr Key said Max was on university holidays and a programme had been worked out for Max and Key's wife, Bronagh, while Key was in his own meetings.

They were visiting the Great Wall today "and they've got a cooking lesson, so they might learn to make dumplings better than me". There was one official item for Max - he was attending a state dinner held in Key's honour.

He was also scheduled to visit an all-girls' school, but when asked why, Mr Key laughed and said "goodness only knows".

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"He's been here a couple of times before so obviously was keen to come back. He'll probably learn more here than he would studying." However, he said Max had taken some text books with him "which is relieving".