Croatia's President says Rotorua is one of the highlights so far during her first official visit to New Zealand.

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic visited Te Puia yesterday afternoon when she was greeted by local iwi in a welcoming ceremony next to the Pohutu geyser.

Te Puia was very beautiful and she enjoyed her time in Rotorua very much, the president said.

She was officially welcomed at Government House in Auckland and a state luncheon hosted by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy.

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Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, (centre) is welcomed to Te Puia. Photo/Ben Fraser
Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, (centre) is welcomed to Te Puia. Photo/Ben Fraser

Grabar-Kitarovic and her husband Jakov Kitarovic arrived yesterday and will leave on Tuesday after visiting Auckland, Wellington, Rotorua and Taupo.

Trade Minister and Rotorua MP Todd McClay said he had expected Rotorua would be a standout - "because it's the best place in New Zealand".

"It's a chance for me to show her the great things Rotorua has to offer."

Rotorua has a tiny Croatian community which includes a cultural group of about 10 people who meet once a month.

Community member Jan Christiensen said she hoped to meet the president yesterday.

Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic is shown around Te Puia by Rotorua MP Todd McClay, (left), and Te Puia's Taparoto Nicholson. Photo/Ben Fraser
Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic is shown around Te Puia by Rotorua MP Todd McClay, (left), and Te Puia's Taparoto Nicholson. Photo/Ben Fraser

"We've got a lot of family back there and we think it would be very special," she said.

Mr McClay planned to talk trade with Ms Grabar-Kitarovic, because Croatia had been a vocal supporter of a Free Trade Agreement between New Zealand and the European Union.

A Fair Trade Agreement is currently being negotiated.

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Croatia was also an ally to New Zealand during our ultimately successful bid to reclaim a seat on the United Nations' Security Council.

Mr McClay said he was hoping to strengthen New Zealand's bilateral trade relationship with Croatia.

Two-way trade has fluctuated in the past few years but remains at modest levels, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade reported on its website.

The potential to expand trade and economic links was ripe.

Croatia had farming machinery and vehicles New Zealand was interested in importing, and our fishing industry was of great interest to them, Mr McClay said.

The president enjoyed lunch with Mr McClay and other officials inside a marquee at Te Puia before continuing on.