11 Nov 2015

Royals' tour comes to an end

6:01 am on 11 November 2015

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall ended their week-long tour of New Zealand yesterday and while thousands turned out to see them in some towns, for many their visit was barely noticed.

As the bugler at the National War memorial struggled to hit the high notes and the rain poured down, the royal tour set off to a soggy and lacklustre start in Wellington last Wednesday.

But by the weekend, the return of the All Blacks gave the tour a much needed boost, with the convergence of the future King and Queen, and New Zealand's own sporting royalty.

Prince Charles spent his rest day greeting the All Blacks and charming the crowds.

"We just travelled 11,683 miles to come here to congratulate the best rugby team in the world. Ladies and gentlemen, what the hell am I going to say to the Aussies next week?"

Those in the country's smaller towns were the most keen to catch a glimpse of the royals.

More than 2000 people turned out to see Prince Charles in Westport.

More than 2000 people turned out to see Prince Charles in Westport. Photo: RNZ / Belinda McCammon

In the Buller District, half of Westport's 4000 residents came out to meet the Prince and Duchess.

And long-time royal photographer for British tabloid The Sun Arthur Edwards, who has documented eight tours to New Zealand, said crowds in in the West Coast town enjoyed a bit of a boost too.

"A town that's been hit by unemployment, mine closures - they were just so, so pleased to see the Royals.

"They made flags and signs and people showed pictures, and one fella said 'I'm proud to be a Pommie bastard', and then the Prince after had a laugh and a joke with him."

Mr Edwards said the tour was a whistlestop one, but there were still many wonderful things to see.

"It was just, you know, everywhere made an effort, New Zealand put on its best show."

In Nelson, the crowds didn't show up until the last minute, but when they did they were several people deep along Trafalgar Street.

Further south in Dunedin, about 2000 came to see the royal couple.

Prince Charles and Camilla greet fans in New Plymouth

Prince Charles and Camilla greet fans in New Plymouth Photo: Supplied/ Pool copy

But in New Plymouth, only 200 showed for a walkabout. In Auckland, a local resident who spoke to RNZ said she was disappointed in the lack of interest shown by many Aucklanders.

"I think probably there hasn't been that much publicity about what they're doing in Auckland but generally I think the measure of support has probably been about what you'd expect, given that a lot of young people are not particularly engaged with the royals, and increasingly a lot of older people."

But Republican Movement of New Zealand spokesperson Savage (who goes by one name) said whether people showed up to see the royals or not was no indication of how they felt about whether they actually wanted the Queen to remain as their head of state.

For many, it was just about celebrity spotting, he said.

"In the past, we've often campaigned quite publicly during a royal visit but we've since realised from our polling that royal visits don't actually have that much effect on the head of state campaign.

"Our latest polling shows that just as many New Zealanders wants a New Zealand head of state as those who want it to be [a British] head of state."

How much the trip cost of the public will be announced by the Department of Internal Affairs once it has finished totting the last of the royal receipts in the coming weeks.

The royal couple left New Zealand just before midday yesterday and began their Australian tour in the Barossa Valley near Adelaide.