A crowd of around 100 people assembled at Rotorua's Rainbow Springs 45 minutes ahead of the royal visit.

The duke and duchess of Sussex are set to visit the kiwi hatchery where they have named two three-day old kiwi chicks.

The royal couple have named the new kiwi koha (gift) and Tihei, from the Māori saying Tihei mauriora which means sneeze of life.

During the visit they learnt about kiwi conservation.


Michelle Impey from Kiwis for kiwi and Rainbow Springs husbandry manager guided the couple. They have now left and moved on to a walkabout.

Impey said the visit, and the global coverage the royal couple bring, would be good for kiwi conservation.

"There's a lot of preparation in hosting the royals but it's worth it," she said.

She also revealed gender neutral names were requested for the chicks, one from the Coromandel, one from Taranaki, as their gender is unknown at present.

The couple is expected at Rainbow Springs after a powhiri and lunch at Ohinemutu.

Sixteen pupils from Selwyn School were among those waiting in the car park. The group had been through Rainbow Springs earlier in the day.

Selwyn School pupil Rawiri Little, 8, said he had enjoyed feeding the fish at Rainbow Springs and if he could show the Royals one thing there it would be the kiwi.

He said it was good the couple was visiting Rainbow Springs so they could see indigenous fish and birds.

A crowd gathers outside Rainbow Springs. Photo / NZME
A crowd gathers outside Rainbow Springs. Photo / NZME

Laura Astrop has travelled from Auckland to be in Rotorua for a Halloween event and decided to stop at Rainbow Springs in the spur of the moment.

"We came past on the number five [bus] and saw the commotion.

"My husband has just finished the burrow and display cabinets for the kiwi."

She said she was hoping to catch a glimpse of the couple when they arrived.

David and Donna Astrop were traveling from Tauranga to the Government Gardens when they decided to stop in at Rainbow Springs.

"We were going through but because we came through the back road we thought they might be here, let's pop in.


"We saw a few people gathering so decided to stay," Donna said.

"This is way better than going to the gardens, we're right up against the gate."

Donna said she had been a royalist all her life and felt like she'd seen princes Harry and William grow up.

She said the couple was a "breath of fresh air".

"I'm hoping for a close up. I'd love to shake their hands."

Toni O'Sullivan was also on her way to the Government Gardens when she decided to stop at Rainbow Springs.


She said she'd continue there after the couple arrived.

"I'm hoping to catch a glimpse really.

"It will be packed there and we probably won't get a glimpse there but we will here."

She said she was looking forward to the atmosphere at the Government Gardens.