Next on the plan: Meghan and Harry arrived at Totaranui in Abel Tasman National Park, to learn about local conservation projects, in a Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopter.
Meghan and Harry arrived with style in a Royal NZ Air Force NH90 helicopter
Meghan received a hongi greeting upon arrival
Abel Tasman National Park was established back in 1942 and named for Abel Tasman, the Dutch navigator who in 1642 became the first European explorer to sight New Zealand and who anchored nearby in Golden Bay. The Park contains the Tata Islands in Golden Bay and Tonga, Adele, and Fisherman islands in Tasman Bay. Most of the park is covered in shrubland and pasture, though in the river valleys there are rain forests consisting of beech, rata, matai, miro, hinau, and tussock.
Covering an area of 237 km2 (92 sq mi; 59,000 acres), the park is the smallest of New Zealand’s national parks.
Meghan and Harry were welcomed to the rainy beachside campsite with a traditional ceremony called powhiri from local iwi, with the blowing of a conch shell, a karanga and a long line of hongi.
Barney, of Onetahua Marae in Nelson, explained, “The middle represents the god of war and we don’t want to put our women into that space. We want to be inclusive but especially Meghan, because she’s expecting, we don’t want to put her at any risk.”
Harry then addressed the group, saying, “Thank you so much for having us today. The weather forecast was a lot worse than this and we are really fortunate to be here. The rain is a blessing and a reminder of our connection to the land. From my wife, myself and our little bump, it’s a blessing to be here. We bring you greetings from my grandmother.”
Meghan and Harry were told by chief elder Barney Thomas:
“We’ve been watching your tour and we know you don’t get much time off. I wouldn’t want to be a royal! So we don’t want to put any demands on you. All we want you to do is relax.”
Harry and Meghan then joined The Department of Conservation ranger Andrew Lamason for a stroll along the yellow-sand beach. Meghan and Harry walked arm in arm, sharing an umbrella.
They came across a weka, with Andrew explaining they’re New Zealand’s version of a monkey as they’re very cheeky. He said Harry knew a lot about global conservation issues, and that Harry expressed concern over the proliferation of fake news and those who believe it.
A planned tree planting was called off due to the rainy weather, with Meghan and Harry instead joining school children and youth volunteers for brownies and tea in the marquee. As Harry and Meghan served themselves, a local kuia commented, “There should be someone serving them!”
“After meeting Harry and Meghan, Milan Chapman, 15, of Motueka High School, said, “They were very nice, chatty and relaxed.”
Pippa Struck, 13, of Golden Bay High School, added, “They were just so calm. You see them on TV, but when you meet them, you realise they’re just normal people.”
Saskia Gray, 16, an Abel Tasman Youth Ambassador, commented, “It was a great opportunity. I’m very fortunate to have this chance. They acted very down-to-earth, and they genuinely care about the people and the land.”
After a group photo, the royals were presented with gifts, including a painting of three tui by Takaka artist Robin Slow, which represents them and their unborn child. They both admired it, with Meghan saying, “Thank you so much.””
Meghan and Harry posed for a for a photo with local schoolchildren
For the rainy outing Meghan looked very sporty, wearing a jacket by the Cornish fashion company – Seasalt.
She wore her trusteed Outland Denim Harriet
Later, Meghan and Harry will visit Courtenay Creative for an event celebrating the creative arts scene.