Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

US Secretary of State John Kerry quietly slips into NZ ahead of historic Antarctica visit

United States Secretary of State John Kerry has quietly slipped into New Zealand today as Donald Trump stunned the world in the race to the White House.

As the world reels with news that Trump appears to have beaten Hillary Clinton to become the new US President, the Democrat Kerry, who lost the 2004 American presidential election to Republican George W. Bush and became President Barack Obama's Secretary of State in 2013, has been flying Down Under.

Kerry's US Government 757 touched down at Christchurch International Airport shortly after 5pm with little fanfare.

A welcoming party of dignitaries including Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel, Deputy US Ambassador Candy Green, and Deputy Secretary of MFAT, met Kerry on the tarmac.

A motorcade of 16 vehicles then whisked him away without stopping to speak to gathered media.

Tomorrow the 72-year-old diplomat will travel from Christchurch to Antarctica where he will be the most senior United States official ever to visit the icy continent.

Kerry arrives back in Christchurch on Saturday evneing before jetting to Wellington for a two-day stopover to meet Prime Minister John Key and Foreign Minister Murray McCully and discuss bilateral and global issues, particularly matters currently before the United Nations Security Council, including the Syria crisis.

He will also attend a wreath-laying ceremony at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park and unveil a plaque at the site for a future US War Memorial in the park.

Kerry is scheduled to fly out of New Zealand later on Sunday.

Kerry's tour will also include Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Peru, and will wind up on November 18.

His predecessor Clinton visited New Zealand as US Secretary of State in 2010. During her visit, the Wellington Declaration was signed which agreed to "a new focus on practical cooperation in the Pacific, and enhanced dialogue on a range of international issues".

Issues of "common concern" included Antarctica; Pacific region stability, security and governance; counter-terrorism; and free trade.

- NZ Herald

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