The royal magic sparked back into life today when Prince William and his entourage hit Wellington.

Any suggestions the royal family had lost their allure were cast aside by a crowd of 3000 to 4000 people who greeted the second in line for the British throne as he carried out a walkabout after opening the new Supreme Court building this morning.

The capital's notoriously fickle weather threatened to disrupt the prince's visit when fog delayed his flight by 20 minutes, and it was feared his plane may have to be diverted to Ohakea air base, near Bulls.

But about 9.40am his air force plane touched down and he was taken to the National War Memorial where he laid a single rose on the Grave of the Unknown Soldier.

He inspected a tri-service guard of honour and laid a large poppy wreath in the War Memorial.

Written on the wreath was: "In deep respect and grateful memory of the men and women of the armed forces who have sacrificed their lives for New Zealand and for freedom."

It was the first engagement of what was a busy day for the prince on his first unaccompanied official tour, whch started when he arrived in Auckland about 11am yesterday.

From the War memorial it was off to the Supreme Court opening where he was greeted by two separate sets of demonstrators, each pushing their own barrow.

Ministry of Justice employees, members of the Public Service Association, staged a rowdy demonstration, hoping the prince's high-profile visit would further highlight stalled negotiations and pay differentials between public servants.

Alongside PSA protestors, members of the Republican Movement, wanting New Zealand to cut its ties with the British monarchy, unfurled a banner outside the Court stating "It's for a republic."

"We've told our supporters that this is all about a peaceful, positive protest," said Republican Movement president Lewis Holden.

The group also mounted a noisy protest when the prince arrived at the site, prompting an angry response from royal supporters.

His fans shouted out "we love you William" when he arrived at the building, and drowned out the Republicans.

During the opening Prince William expressed concern for the people of quake-devastated Haiti, but avoided the issue of republicanism.

The opening was the prince's first official duty on behalf of the Queen, and some media had speculated that he would use the occasion to say the British royal family would serve New Zealand as long as wanted.

The Supreme Court replaces the London-based Privy Council.

Prince William said he was "extraordinarily happy" to be back in this "distinctive, refreshing and confident nation".

He last visited New Zealand in 2005 for the British and Irish Lions rugby tour.

Prince William said New Zealanders shared many values with Britain and respected democracy and the rule of law.

"New Zealand's values are ones that I greatly admire. They have deep roots in our heritage and constitutional history."

The relationship between Maori and the Crown also added a unique dimension and the opening of the Supreme Court was a milestone in the country's constitutional history, he said.

The new court, diagonally opposite Parliament, consists of two connected buildings - the 1881 High Court and the new, modern interpretation of it.

"Old and new are a fitting and worthy home for the highest Court in New Zealand," Prince William said.

"This (court) room has an extraordinary feel to it - as if we are actually inside the cone of the kauri.

"I understand that when the kauri cone matures, its winged seeds are dispersed by the wind. In the same way, let this court dispense justice to all parts of the nation," he said.

After the opening ceremony two Public Service Association members protesting for better pay were among those to meet the prince during his walkabout.

One of them, Neil Raeburn, said it was exciting to see Prince William, who asked him if he was wearing sunblock.

"He is very thoughtful," Mr Raeburn said.

Another PSA member, Tania Walkin, said hello to the prince and shook his hand.

"He is very down to earth, he is just like us," she said.

The prince asked to have his photo taken with eight-year-old Laura West.

Eight-year-old Elliotte O'Brien handed the prince a picture she had drawn of two princesses and asked him to pass it onto his girlfriend Kate Middleton.

Prince William thanked Elliotte for the gift and said he would pass it on.

Security guards inspected the envelope holding the picture before passing it to him.

Hugo Kinnaird, 13, offered the prince some advice to help maintain relations with both the public and his younger brother, Prince Harry - "don't be mean to gingers".

Then it was back to nature for the prince who was taken for a visit to Kapiti Island, a bird sanctuary off the Kapiti Coast about 50km north of Wellington.

Accompanied by Prime Minister John Key, local MP Nathan Guy and Associate Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson, the prince, dressed casually, arrived about 3.30pm, and representatives of local iwi Ngati Toa Rangaiti welcomed him with a mihi.

He got the chance to hold a spotted kiwi - one of over 1200 on the island, according to DOC ranger David Wrightson.

Joking with photographers, and holding the moulting kiwi, he told them: "This is my date with a kiwi."

"You look like you're plucking it," was the quick reply from veteran Sun photographer Arthur Edwards who has been photographing the prince since he was born.

Prince William posed for photographs with local college students selected to help welcome him before heading off on his private guided tour of the island.

Tonight the prince was to attending a barbeque hosted by the PM at Premier House and tomorrow was vistiting Wellington Hospital before leaving for Sydney.

- NZPA