The Duchess of Sussex has charmed Kiwis - comforting emotional fans yesterday afternoon before impressing guests at a formal reception where she started her speech with a few words of te reo.

Meghan was welcomed at Government House last night with thunderous applause as she stepped up to speak about women's suffrage.

"Tēnā koutou katoa," she said before thanking Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy for inviting Prince Harry and herself to the event.

"We are proud to be able to join you tonight, in celebrating the 125th anniversary of women's suffrage in your country."

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The Duchess made special mention of women in New Zealand who campaigned for their right to vote and how it was universally admired.

"In looking forward to this very special occasion, I reflected on the importance of this achievement, but also the larger impact of what this symbolises," she said.

"Because yes, women's suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness.

"Suffrage is not simply about the right to vote, but also about what that represents - the basic and fundamental human right of being able to participate in the choices for your future and that of your community."

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at the Wellington International Airport Military Terminal. Photo / Getty Images
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at the Wellington International Airport Military Terminal. Photo / Getty Images

Earlier the former star in the TV series Suits talked to star-struck young girls, offered words of comfort to one fan and held the hand of another after they became emotional.

But while she was busy winning hearts the Duke fell short in his knowledge of Kiwi sporting legends.

Student Nate Kearins chatted with Prince Harry about sport during the traditional welcome ceremony on the lawns of Government House.

The 13-year-old asked the Duke if he knew who Steven Adams was but said Harry had no idea and clearly didn't know much about basketball.

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Overall, though, the start of the royal tour went well, with thousands braving the cold to welcome the pair.

The arrival

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex meet Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as they arrive at the Wellington International Airport. Photo / Getty Images
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex meet Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as they arrive at the Wellington International Airport. Photo / Getty Images

The RNZAF plane touched down at 2.53pm, much to the delight of those who had gathered at the terminal eager for a glimpse of the royals.

Invictus Games athletes were the first off the plane. They were quickly followed by the royal party and then the Duke and Duchess, who held hands as they came down the stairs to much applause.

Meghan wore a $975 tan checked Karen Walker coat and a simple black dress which is believed to have cost less than $100. Both royals wore a red poppy and were welcomed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Wellington mayor Justin Lester and his wife, Elizabeth. After stopping for a picture with the athletes, the couple left, smiling and waving at cheering fans.

Traditional welcome

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex performing the traditional greeting the Hongi with the governor general of New Zealand. Photo / AP
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex performing the traditional greeting the Hongi with the governor general of New Zealand. Photo / AP

After leaving the airport, Harry and Meghan received a traditional welcome ceremony, including a hongi, military gala, haka and 21-gun salute, on the lawns of Government House.

Prince Harry stopped to talk with soldiers from the guard of honour before talking to students about sport.

Meghan won the hearts of several Girl Guides.

"I love her dress and she was really pretty," said Minnie Newman, 11.

Meeting Reddy in Government House, Harry complimented the flowers on the table and ordered an English breakfast tea.

Wreath-laying and walkabout

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex greets the crowd at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo / Pool
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex greets the crowd at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo / Pool

An almighty scream rang out from the large crowd as the couple arrived for a walkabout in Wellington.

Before performing their public obligations, the pair laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior then bowed their heads for a moment of silence as The Last Post played.

The Duke was presented with the Badge in Gold, the highest honour from the New Zealand Returned and Services Association, in recognition of his work with injured veterans. The award was presented by RSA national president B. J. Clark, with the Duchess pinning it on her husband.

As the couple went to meet the public, one excited young boy could be heard repeatedly screaming, "oh, my God". The royals were given numerous gifts, including multiple bags of pineapple lumps. Just before the walkabout ended, the Duke was given a Buzzy Bee toy for the child the couple are expecting and raised it above his head victoriously, to the delight of the crowd.

The fire alarm and the reception

Simon Bridges meets Britain's Prince Harry with his wife wife Meghan. Photo / AFP
Simon Bridges meets Britain's Prince Harry with his wife wife Meghan. Photo / AFP

The couple met National Party leader Simon Bridges and his wife Natalie late afternoon - albeit slightly late after a fire alarm was activated, apparently by an air freshener in the toilets.

They then met the Prime Minister again before attending a reception hosted by Reddy to celebrate women's suffrage in New Zealand.

Reddy welcomed the couple and said they were visiting during an important year for New Zealand.

Today

The royals meet young people from several mental-health projects in Wellington. They will then head to Abel Tasman Park before spending the evening visiting Courtney Creative for an event celebrating Wellington's creative-arts scene.