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Harry takes a walk on the wild side

Published 10/05/2015

Prince Harry meets Mala Kershaw, three, from Wellington, during a visit to Pukeahu National War Memorial Park
Prince Harry meets Mala Kershaw, three, from Wellington, during a visit to Pukeahu National War Memorial Park

Walking through untouched rainforest and along white sands, the second day of Prince Harry's tour to New Zealand took him to one of the most remote places in the British Commonwealth.

Departing from Wellington, he first stopped at the city of Invercargill, where he came face to face with his namesake - a 100-year-old reptile.

Henry the Tuatara, a creature only found in New Zealand, looked slightly agitated by all the attention he received, but eventually settled on the Prince's arm.

The reptile is revered in Maori culture and was traditionally said to be the messenger of Whiro, the god of death and disaster.

This was part of the welcoming ceremony he received which was attended by dozens of screaming girls, one of whom managed to plant a kiss on his cheek.

Yvonne Gawn, 68, who made the impromptu gesture, said: "I didn't plan to do that but I just grabbed him - he was so lovely."

The welcome included a haka and he was given a ceremonial chieftain's cloak known as a Kakahu to wear as well a cuddly green Kakapo parrot for newborn niece Princess Charlotte.

He then flew by helicopter to Stewart Island, a remote island with a population of just 380, and took a short boat ride to Ulva Island, a nature sanctuary mostly covered by unspoilt rainforest.

Harry is the first member of the Royal Family to make an official visit to the island - known as Rakirua in Maori - but his grandfather and uncle Edward have made the trip privately.

The Prince was given a short tour by conservation manager Brent Beavan, which saw them walk through parts of the canopy as well as long a golden beach known as Sydney Cove.

The island paradise hosts a variety of wildlife and is often visited by whales, dolphins as well as many sharks.

Stopping on the shore, Harry asked: "What sort of birds do you have here? Are there birds here that are nowhere else?"

He also stopped to speak to John and Jean Hunter, who own the only private residence on the island which has been in their family for 93 years.

"That's your place just over the back there?" he asked. "It's a beautiful place, it's completely away from everything and everyone. Nothing has been touched here."

Mr Hunter, 76, said they come over to stay on the island as often as they can and share the house with the rest of his family.

"I'm so happy and honoured for the islanders that he has come," he said. "It's really great to see him here."

Later Harry was given a demo of one of the many rat traps on the island by ranger Phred Dobbins, who has lived on the island for 30 years.

The reserve has been rat free since the mid-1990s but the critters manage to make it back every so often so traps are maintained across the island.

Following his day's engagements Harry returned to the only pub on the island where he took part in a rowdy quiz with the locals.

With a team called "The Ginger Ninjas" the Prince secured second place in the feisty contest.

Some of the answers included Eton Mess and corgis with the quiz master asking Harry directly for the answers.

His team of security guards secured the victory in a separate team, particularly enjoying the first round which was on bodyguards.

The packed pub also enjoyed a round on royal music.

Tomorrow he will finish his time on the island by visiting the only school before jetting off to the next stop at Christchurch. His time there will be mainly focused on their attempts to regenerate the city since the earthquake of 2011.

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