Prince Harry, Meghan and their little bump will fly out on a high today after an unforgettable day in Rotorua yesterday.

By all accounts, the tourism town delivered an absolute scene-stealer for the final day of public engagements in the Duke and Duchess of Sussex' first overseas tour.

The young royals, who have been travelling through the Pacific for three weeks, were due to spend the night at an undisclosed location before flying out today.

Their day in the Bay, the last stop on their four-day New Zealand tour, started with an 11am arrival at Rotorua Airport, where a small crowd had gathered in the sunshine to see them.

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The royal couple has delighted crowds at Rotorua's Government Gardens.

With a police escort and busloads of international media in tow, the royal tourists were quickly whisked by car to their first engagement, an intimate visit to the historic St Faith's Church.

The couple were met by local leaders, who gifted them each a korowai cloak, and prepared them for the traditional powhiri to come.

The Duchess of Sussex hugs Catalina Rivera, 2, who got through the security at Government Gardens during thier visit to Rotorua today. Photo / Alan Gibson
The Duchess of Sussex hugs Catalina Rivera, 2, who got through the security at Government Gardens during thier visit to Rotorua today. Photo / Alan Gibson

More than 1000 people gathered at Te Papaiouru Marae in Ohinemutu to watch the welcome by Te Arawa iwi Ngāti Whakaue.

International media would later rave about the welcome, claiming Rotorua iwi had "stolen the show" with a performance that trumped even that delivered a few days earlier at Government House.

Prince Harry impressed in turn, opening his address to Ngāti Whakaue in clear te reo Maori, before leading a waiata.

Harry said he was pleased to be spending time at the edge of the lake and with the people of Te Arawa.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex is welcomed onto Te Papaiouru Marae at Ōhinemutu. Photo/Ben Fraser
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex is welcomed onto Te Papaiouru Marae at Ōhinemutu. Photo/Ben Fraser

"Thank you so much for the beautiful cloak you have gifted myself and the Duchess."

After lunch, the couple headed to Rainbow Springs to get up close and personal with a New Zealand icon.

The royal couple went behind the scenes of the hatchery, where a kiwi chick hatched just minutes before their arrival.

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Crowd delighted as royal couple do a walkabout at Rotorua's Government Gardens


The couple named two three-day old chicks, from Coromandel and Taranaki, Koha (meaning gift) and Tihei, from the Maori saying 'Tihei Mauriora' meaning 'the sneeze of life'.

All the while a crowd had begun gathering in Rotorua's pristine Government Gardens, lining the metal barriers marking the path the royals would later tread along Queens Drive.

Christchurch woman Angie Hira, originally from Rotorua, was among the first to arrive early in the morning to grab a spot near the arches.

"I contemplated staying the night just to make sure I got a good spot."

As the glorious day wore on, the crowd swelled to thousands, four or five people deep along every centimetre of the route.

Young and old, some had travelled from all over the country to see the royals, while others had just stopped by after work for a nosey.

Some wanted to see their beloved Princess Diana's youngest son, while others were waiting for Meghan, the American star of Suits and newly-minted royal.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, take a walk in the Redwood Forest. Photo / Stephen Parker
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, take a walk in the Redwood Forest. Photo / Stephen Parker

The Government Gardens were beautifully prepared for the big day but the royals likely barely saw them, their view obscured by the fans waving flags, offering gifts and screaming their names.

The couple's genuine warmth was clear to see as they greeted, chatted and hugged fans, shaking every hand they could and collecting a haul of thoughtful gifts.

Rotorua toddler Catalina Rivera, 2, ducked through the barriers to give Meghan a hug.

In a touching moment, the Duchess ducked down and embraced the little girl, who recently migrated to Rotorua from El Salvador with her mum Mercedes de Rivera.

Their friend Blanca Alvarez said the little girl adored the Duchess. "She likes pretending to be her, a princess."

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex greet the public in the Government Gardens. Photo/Ben Fraser
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex greet the public in the Government Gardens. Photo/Ben Fraser

"She has been so excited all day. It was so special."

Catalina said the hug had made her "very happy".

Mayor Steve Chadwick summed it up: "Well done Rotorua, you certainly turned it on."

The final stop for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex was the Redwoods Treewalk in Rotorua, where they were greeted by a crowd of mountain bikers, dog walkers and Halloween-costumed children.

In casual clothing, the pair traversed a wobbly bridge suspended among the treetops nine metres above the ground.

Down on the ground again, Meghan greeted a group of mountain bike riders who happened to pass with a "kia ora".

As they left, Harry said, "Bye, guys, enjoy this heaven."

They walked away holding hands through the redwoods.