Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Royal visit: Towns roll out red and blue

Royal trio's tour viewed as promising a big boost for NZ's international profile

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will arrive in Wellington on Monday. Photo / Getty Images
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will arrive in Wellington on Monday. Photo / Getty Images

Towns on the royal tour are getting ready for an international spotlight that promises to boost the promotion of New Zealand.

Accommodation in towns on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's 10-day itinerary is almost booked out as displays in shops are set up and red-and-blue streamers readied.

The royal couple and their 8-month-old son, Prince George, will arrive on Monday, but the tour is already attracting much attention in the British press.

Ingrid Seward, royal commentator and editor-in-chief of London-based Majesty magazine, said the visit would double as a chance for the country to promote a different side.

"Many people know a little about [New Zealand's] beauty and its great wines, but that is all. Because of the global interest in the Cambridges, it will highlight other aspects of the two islands and the people.

"The tour will be very closely watched as never before, as it's the first time so much social media has been available.

Also, the promise that Prince George might suddenly appear."

Towns on the royals' path are busy making sure they are ready for the spotlight.

In Cambridge, businesses are setting up shop-front displays, with House of Travel Cambridge decorating its windows with pictures of Kensington Palace and royal cut-outs.

The last royal visit to the Waikato town was in 1953, when Prince William's grandparents, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, toured the Karapiro hydro-electricity project.

Rebecca Foy, manager of Cambridge i-Site, said accommodation in the area would soon be full.

There was a real buzz around town, Ms Foy said.

Waipa District Council spokeswoman Jeanette Tyrrell said it was impossible to say how many people might turn up for a glimpse of William and Kate.

"We had heard that buses are coming from Tokoroa and the Coromandel ... but, really, nobody can say."

Schools and parks will be opened for carparking, 18 temporary toilets have been brought in, and 3km of fencing set up.

Ms Seward said the royal couple would be exhausted by the tour's end.

"Even with time off, it is impossible to really relax as you always have the next day's duties to deal with. I think they will certainly enjoy it, but ... it doesn't matter how young you are, that trip takes it out of you and normally it would take at least a week to recover."

Where to see the royals

Monday, April 7: Wellington. Public drive to Government House via Oriental Bay.
Thursday, April 10: Blenheim/Wellington, Lay wreath at War Memorial, Seymour Square, and public walk; WWI event and flying day at Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.
Friday, April 11: Auckland. Public walk/drive along Halsey St to the Viaduct Harbour.
Saturday, April 12: Waikato. Public drive/walk in Cambridge.
Sunday, April 13: Dunedin/Queenstown. Ngai Tahu welcome at airport; service at Cathedral Church of St Paul, The Octagon, then public drive to Forsyth Barr Stadium; Queenstown Airport.
Monday, April 14: Christchurch. Ngai Tahu welcome, Christchurch City Council building; various events around Latimer Square.
Wednesday, April 16: Wellington. Walk through Civic Square.

- NZ Herald

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