Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

Royal visit: The short and long of visits Downunder

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Prince George. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Prince George. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The tour by Prince William - a young new father - couldn't be more different from the one his grandmother undertook more than 60 years ago as a young new monarch.

The Queen arrived in Auckland on the SS Gothic on December 23, 1953, after a voyage that lasted about a month - a far cry from the first-class flight taken by William, Catherine and George.
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The Queen then embarked on a 39-day tour of the country. According to the New Zealand History Online website, she visited 46 towns and attended 110 functions.

In contrast, William has just over 20 official events during his 10-day visit.

The 27-year-old Queen was not much younger than her 31-year-old grandson and both brought their new spouses, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duchess of Cambridge respectively.
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The Queen's trip was marred by tragedy - the Tangiwai rail disaster happened the day after she arrived.

She made special mention of it during her Christmas broadcast from Government House and her husband attended a state funeral in Wellington for many of the victims.

The rest of the Queen's tour was filled with visits to main centres and small towns alike, with stops at farming communities such as Waipawa and Waipukurau.
Watch: Royal visit: Playdate for Prince George

Prince William's trip has some adrenaline pumped into it, with a ride on a Shotover jet near Queenstown and a ride on an America's Cup yacht around the Waitemata Harbour.

In a nod to their military connections, both itineraries feature a visit to the Royal New Zealand Air Force base at Whenuapai.

While the Queen had to leave her then two young children behind for months during her 1953 and 1954 Commonwealth tour, William and Catherine have brought 8-month-old George with them.
Watch: Royals arrive in NZ

Historian Jock Phillips, who wrote the book Royal Summer about the 1953-54 tour, said the country spent about a year preparing and about 75 per cent of the population made the effort to see the Queen.

A sense of pride was visible throughout the country.

"People dyed their sheep red, white and blue [if the royal train was to pass their fields], and the bowling clubs cut their grass in the shape of an E for Elizabeth."

If you're out spotting the royals, we want your snaps. Share them with us, including details of where you took the photo, here.


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