We're best friends now, but the top dog of the US armed forces took no chances after waving goodbye to his hosts at a plush vineyard yesterday.
Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta left in an 11-strong motorcade with an armoured Land Cruiser, after emerging from lunch with Prime Minister John Key and bilateral hangers-on.
Key said the men had discussed Syria, China and Afghanistan.
International relations expert Professor Stephen Hoadley said the scale of Panetta's visit was noted abroad - the Washington Post ran an unusual, extensive report on the trip.
Key confirmed New Zealand would keep its anti-nuclear legislation. Hoadley said the US acceptance of this was a victory for New Zealand.
"The clash of the two countries that started in 1985 when [David] Lange finally cancelled the [nuclear visits] has ended with the United States yielding a lot more than New Zealand."
The Prime Minister also disclosed a visit from Barack Obama was possible if Obama won another term.
"Never say never. It'd always be welcome."By John Weekes Email John