Abel Tasman's sighting of New Zealand in 1642, Dutch immigration since then and tulips are bound to get a mention as King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands start the official part of their visit to New Zealand.

"Perfect timing, just when hundreds of hectares of tulips are in full bloom in the deep south," reads a post on the Dutch Embassy's Facebook page.

The couple arrived on Friday and had no public engagements during the weekend. They will be welcomed by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy at a ceremony at Government House in Wellington this morning.

They will take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park and go on to visit Sir Peter Jackson's Great War Exhibition nearby. They have meetings with Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader Andrew Little at parliament during the afternoon.


Wellington's film industry will be on show during a visit to Park Road Post, the film production facility in Miramar, and this evening there's a state dinner at Government House.

It's the couple's first visit to New Zealand as King and Queen and they will be here until Wednesday. They visited in November 2006 before the investiture of King Willem-Alexander in 2013, and Queen Beatrix made a state visit in 1992.

"Our close relationship with the Netherlands dates back to Abel Tasman's sighting of New Zealand in 1642, and we are lucky to have many Dutch migrants living here who greatly enhance our society and economy," Key has said.

The King and Queen are accompanied by Foreign Minister Bert Koenders and a trade mission of 60 companies led by Minister for Economic Affairs Henk Kamp. About 150,000 Kiwis have Dutch roots.