James Whatling/Splash News Online

The historic trip includes visits to 13 towns and cities and 45 separate engagements

April 06, 2014 08:40 PM

Touch down!

After a brief stop in Sydney to catch a connecting flight to Wellington, Prince William, Kate and Prince George have arrived in New Zealand for the start of the three-week tour that will also take them to Australia.

They landed just after 8 p.m. Sunday New York time – around 12:05 p.m. Monday in Wellington. The historic trip includes visits to 13 towns and cities and 45 separate engagements.

Within 10 minutes of the New Zealand Air Force plane’s landing came the first glimpse of Kate, holding baby George just inside the cabin. She and William then left the aircraft from the back of the plane into the blustery, light rain.

After being met by Prime Minister John Key, they walked across the tarmac at Wellington Airport. George, in a cream-colored outfit, didn’t seem bothered by the weather or the attention of the 100 members of the media – flapping his arms as they walked across the tarmac.

Kate was wearing a scarlet Catherine Walker coat and Gina Foster hat – accessorized by a diamond and platinum brooch in the form of a silver fern, the emblem of New Zealand.

The piece was given to Queen Elizabeth by the “Women of Auckland” as a Christmas present in 1953, during the then-new Queen’s Commonwealth tour to mark her Coronation.

Kate and Prince George
Andrew Parsons/Polaris

As she held George in her right arm, Kate waved at some well-wishers pressed against the fence around the airport perimeter.

Despite the long flight from London that began Saturday evening, the young family looked happy and relaxed. William, in a suit, acknowledged the welcome from the top of the steps as they emerged from the plane.

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The trip partly mirrors William’s first tour with his parents, Charles and Princess Diana, 31 years ago – when William was practically the same age as his own son.

And while William has certainly also been to Australia and New Zealand as an adult, he is known to be excited at the prospect of introducing Kate to the people and the spectacular scenery he has fallen “in love with,” as one of his staff members put it.

The family will stay at Government House starting Wednesday, after first remaining at an undisclosed private location in order to recuperate from the long flight.

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Wednesday’s Government House event will mark George’s first participation in an official engagement, when he joins his parents at a garden party for other new parents – all to mark the work of Plunket, a child and parent support network.

Also on the agenda: the sport-loving and, according to aides, “competitive” couple will help sail American Cup yachts in Auckland harbor and enjoy adventures on wild rivers.

Later, in Australia, there is a potential trip to Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, where an enclosure is being named for the new Prince.

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