Royal Zara Phillips is in Auckland supporting spinal cord injury research - seeing the best preserved body parts the city has to offer.
This morning Ms Phillips attended a talk at the University of Auckland's Centre for Brain Research, where Dr Simon O'Carroll and Professor Louise Nicholson spoke about exciting new research into a protein which could reverse paralysis.
Ms Phillips, dressed casually in a dark navy jacket and blue jeans, was shown around the university's learning centre, a circular room filled with curved rows of shelving where preserved body parts sat on display.
The royal wrinkled her nose at the slightly gruesome sight of a preserved stomach, laughing at her own squeamishness.
"Let's look at something that doesn't make you feel ill," one of her entourage joked.
Auckland Medical Sciences learning centre curator Nick Duggan showed Ms Phillips around the room and explained to her what the organs were.
He pointed out a row of gall bladders and explained how gall stones sometimes needed to be surgically removed.
Ms Phillips appeared engaged and curious, despite being slightly grossed out.
"She is extremely easy to talk to and a down-to-earth person," Mr Duggan said.
Ms Phillips, the Queen's granddaughter, is a keen equestrian and has been invested in the search for a cure for spinal cord injury victims for over a decade.
She attended today's talk as a patron of the CatWalk Trust, a fundraising organisation founded by former champion rider Catriona Williams, who became a tetraplegic after a horse riding accident in 2005, dashing her dreams of competing in the Athens Olympics.
The Trust is the sole funder of the University of Auckland's Spinal Cord Injury Research Facility.
Also present this morning was Holly Pretorius, 12, who was left partially paralysed after a car crash five years ago.
Holly was still able to ride horses, which she talked about with Ms Phillips.
Holly's father David said the advancement in protein research was great news and he was pleased it was happening in New Zealand.
When asked, everyone who spoke with Ms Phillips was quick to mention how friendly she was.
Ministers Nikki Kaye, for ACC and Jonathan Coleman, health, also attended.
They both thanked Ms Phillips for coming and the attention her profile helped bring to the cause.
Attentive during this morning's presentation, Ms Phillips asked Dr O'Carroll and Dr Nicholson questions about their research and appeared excited about the possibilities their research would offer people like Holly and Ms Williams.
The Catwalk Trust is throwing its tenth anniversary dinner at SkyCity tonight, which Ms Phillips will be attending before flying home tomorrow morning.
Facts about the research:
Dr Nicholson and Dr O'Carroll's work in DNA therapy and Connexin (protein) research at the University of Auckland is a leading body of research.
It involves the use of a peptide which can be applied directly to an injury site, or indirectly through the bloodstream.
The peptide has been found to reduce the swelling and inflammation associated with spinal cord injury by up to 50 per cent.
This limits the secondary injuries, like paralysis, caused by swelling in cases of spinal cord injury.
The use of the peptide has the ability to stop and even reverse paralysis following spinal cord injury.
Dr O'Carroll said the peptide had the best effect if used within eight hours of injury, but it also had the potential to reverse long-standing injury.
Scar tissue could be removed from an old spinal cord injury and the peptide applied to the fresh wound, which could reduce the formation of new scar tissue.
Paralysis stems from a lack of space within the spinal cord, so reduction of swelling and inflammation, as well as scar tissue, is key in reversing or preventing paralysis.
The research is not yet in its clinical stage, but CatWalk hopes to raise enough finding to move it on to the next phase as quickly as possible.