The royal couple have been taken for a dramatic jetboat ride on the Shotover river, blasting by rocky outcrops, skimming around ragged boulders, and speeding through the narrow canyons.
A crowd on a grass embankment above the Shotover River, including a selection of Arrowtown School pupils, cheered when the royal couple arrived 20 minutes behind schedule.
In brilliant late afternoon sunshine, five-year old Maggie Langford presented Kate - who has changed into skinny jeans and a blazer - with a bouquet of flowers on arrival at the sandy riverside.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were given a short riverside safety briefing along with the 12 others travelling in their big, red boat.
Others on the royals' boat - and a second 'Big Red' boat that is going up the river - include representatives from Ngai Tahu, tribe chairman Sir Mark Solomon, Ngai Tahu youth, Shotover Jet workers, security guards, and Kensington Palace officials.
William and Kate chose not to wear the tourism firm's grey sprayjackets to protect them from the inevitable splashes of water.
But they clutched their red lifejackets tightly as they met their fellow boat travellers.
They stood around chatting casually before they had a group photograph.
The royals then walked down the gangplank and sat in the middle of the boat, just behind driver Wayne Paton, before taking off.
Their boat went up the river, turned and raced back before performing a dramatic 180 degree turn for the cameras.
When the boat shot up the river, the crowd shrieked in delight. They then disappeared from view for a 15-minute journey,.
The pair were clearly thrilled with the adventure.
After taking off their lifejackets - they didn't appear to have got a drenching - they took several minutes meeting the Arrowtown School pupils.
Prince William was wearing a black New Zealand cap with a silver fern.
They were then whisked off to stay the night at the exclusive Matakauri Lodge.
Earlier this afternoon, the royal couple arrived at Queenstown Airport and quickly moved on to Amisfield Winery.
They were greeted by co-owner John Darby and Central Otago Wine Growers president James Dicey.
Gibbston wine region founder Alan Brady gave William and Kate a brief overview of the area's wine history inside Amisfield, where more than 20 local winemakers are awaiting to serve samples of the best local drops.
Cheers erupted as Kate and William arrived at the Winery. Young girls screamed as Katherine waved at crowds from her car.
One woman remarked: "they could have gone slower," while another person said it was nice to see the couple, even if it was just for a second.
Hopeful locals, rugged up in blankets and thick coats, gathered outside the winery.
Sarah Dobson, 38, hoped the royal motorcade would slow down enough for people to see Prince William and Catherine.
"I'm a proud Brit and I want to see both of them," she said.
Ms Dobson, who has been in New Zealand for 12 years, was enjoying the royals visit to her adopted home country.
"It's nice to see all the pomp, and tradition and circumstance coming out."
Bella Gray, 5, made a special sign for Prince William and Kate.
The sign, drawn up in red and blue, is made especially for the Duke.
Her older sister, Lilly, 8, had put in her special mask and princess earrings for Kate.
"I liked her red outfit the best," Lilly said.
The sisters and their cousin, Frances Shallard, had made the trip to Queenstown from their home just out of Riversdale for the Kate and Wills.
"I'm going to wave at them," Lilly said.
The sun is shimmering off picturesque autumnal leaves for the royal couple's flying visit to Queenstown this afternoon.
One they have landed at Queenstown Airport, in the shadow of The Remarkables mountain range, a motorcade will whisk them off to Amisfield Winery for a sampling of Central Otago's finest wines and delicacies.
It will steel them for a 25-minute adrenalin rush on the Shotover Jet.
Security is tight for the jetboat trip up the steep, rugged, tree-lined Shotover Canyons, and dozens of police have been scouring the area all morning.
Highly-trained Special Tactics Group (STG) officers are believed to be in the area, and a dive squad has trawled the river.
The river, busy with jetboat rides all morning, has now gone silent as tension builds for the royal couple's arrival about 3.30pm.
The top area of the Shotover Jet area has been closed off to the public, as has a road that runs parallel to the river.
Meanwhile, Prince William has finally had a win against wife Kate. The duke's little rippa team beat the duchess's 30-20. Not even the support of All Black great Richie McCaw could get them over the line.
After the event, McCaw said the royals were "just like normal people".
"I asked about their trip and they've had a pretty good time by the sounds of it, she said she'd always wanted to come to New Zealand, and obviously they've enjoyed it.
"Obviously being parents themselves they've enjoyed seeing the kids running around (today)."
After the rugby William presented McCaw with the IRB Junior World Championship trophy. New Zealand are hosting the tournament in June and as holders England will be defending their title.
The Duke and Duchess then presented medals to the captains of the six teams, and the players from the two teams.
Many of the players shyly glanced up at Kate as they moved along the stage.
The couple had changed into casual clothing for the Regal Rugby Fun Day at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Kate wore a cream jersey and black jeans and William wore sneakers and tan trousers.
They were greeted by New Zealand Rugby union boss Steve Tew, players Ben Smith, Richie McCaw and DJ Forbes and CureKids ambassadors Sophie Newbold and Bayden Marrin at the stadium tunnel.
There were big cheers as they enter the ground.
Paul Miller, who helped coach the white team with Kate, said she spent much of the game trying to understand the rules of rippa rugby, a non-contact version of the game.
"I asked her if she had any coaching experience and she said, 'none'.
"So I said you leave that to me and look after the substitutions."
It was a real thrill for the kids to talk with her on the sidelines, Mr Miller said.
William appeared to be taking his duties seriously with words of encouragement for the young players
Earlier the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge delighted the crowd which swelled to 3500 in the Octagon with a brief royal walkabout after the Palm Sunday Service at St Paul's Cathedral.
The royal couple each concentrated on one side of the crowd and were greeted with loud cheering.
They then drove to Forsyth Barr Stadium where 8000 people were gathered for the Regal Rugby Fun Day.
Around ten thousand locals had secured tickets to watch the event, and many took the unusual step of turning up to the rugby sporting red, blue and white.
Speaking before the royals' arrival, McCaw said his main wish was that the couple enjoyed their time in New Zealand.
"The weather hasn't been so crash hot. For Kate it's her first time here so hopefully they'll go home thinking it's a beautiful place.''
This morning, cheering crowds greeted the royal couple as they arrived at the Octagon for the Palm Sunday service.
The Duchess turned and waved before the couple were greeted at the steps of St Paul's Cathedral by Dean the Very Reverend Dr Trevor James.
Also welcoming them were Ngai Tahu representative Professor John Broughton and Bishop Kelvin Wright.
Kate was again a crowd favourite in her teal Emilia Wickstead dress and Jane Taylor hat.
"Just beautiful, she stood out against everything else,'' said royal-watcher Sue Ashford.
"The depth of colour of it - amazing.''
Mrs Ashford, a British expat, has also seen Prince Charles at the cathedral before but said the crowd was nowhere near as large.
Prince William and Catherine waved to the cheering, flag-waving crowd before ascending the cathedral stairs.
Ample space didn't stop the most dedicated royalists turning up in the southern city at the crack of dawn.
Maniatoto women Elaine Aitken and Jane Faulconer set up camp next to the barriers lining the Octagon at 5am.
"We wanted to make sure we were going to have a really good position,'' said Mrs Faulconer.
The women had picked flowers from their gardens into posies to gift to the royal visitors.
"When I met Diana 31 years ago at the Dunedin airport. I shook her hands three times in one day and she had the most delicate, silky, softest little hand.
"I can remember thinking `I hope I didn't hurt her' and I said to her, `you are so beautiful.' She really was.''
Mrs Aitken said she hoped the new parents weren't missing Prince George too much on the only leg of their New Zealand tour they were staying a night away from their son, who would remain at Government House in Wellington.
Two-year-old Skye McLeary dressed as a princess for the occasion.
Her mother Jinean Sinclair said having the royals in town was special for the region.
Security was tight in the area, with dozens of police visible on rooftops and in surrounding streets.
Police were chatting and laughing with waiting royal watchers and were even taking photos for them.