31 Oct 2018

Prince Harry: 'Bye, guys, enjoy this heaven'

8:00 pm on 31 October 2018

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were greeted by a crowd of mountain bikers, dog walkers and children in Halloween costumes at the final engagement of their New Zealand tour.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit Redwoods Tree Walk.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit Redwoods Tree Walk. Photo: AFP / Pool

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan visited the Redwoods Treewalk in Rotorua, where after a welcome from staff, they admired a 2000-year-old trunk section of Californian redwood, there as a comparison to the much-younger, slimmer, 117-year-old ones in this forest.

The royals were then escorted up a wooden track that spiralled to a platform nine metres above the ground, where they admired hanging wooden lanterns and received an explanation from staff.

Meghan, in a black puffer jacket, black pants and flat shoes, smiled enthusiastically throughout. Harry wore a black long-sleeved shirt and beige chinos.

From there, the couple were escorted across a wobbly bridge to tread part of the 700m elevated path, pausing briefly on a "living deck" that provided a birds-eye view of the crowd and contained a sign about how the redwoods thick bark protects against insects and fire, aiding its longevity.

After the treewalk, Harry and Meghan held hands as they walked through the redwood forest at ground level, stopping to admire a spectacularly clear blue pool ringed by ponga ferns.

Shortly afterwards, a group of mountain bikers of all ages rode past to a table of waiting drinks, where they meet the royals, Meghan greeting bikers with a "kia ora". She was gifted a soft-toy tuatara, which she squeezed, then commented, "Oh, it makes a noise."

Meghan asked, "Do you usually have refreshments waiting at the end of the ride?" The bikers laughed and admitted it was just on this trip they'd experienced the perk.

Harry asked the riders, "Do you know how lucky you are to have a place like this?" Meghan added, "This place is your backyard. It's great. It's really special. Beautiful."

Harry also joked to biker Tuhoto-Ariki Pene, 17, our national downhill champ, about the black leather shoes he was wearing with his riding gear, quipping, "Someone said smart casual?"

The Maketu biker later said, "He said, 'You look like a professional!' I said, 'You caught me out this time.' I raced in the weekend so my gear wasn't clean."

The royals expressed their regret that they didn't have a chance to ride themselves but hoped to be back.

As they left, Harry said, "Bye, guys, enjoy this heaven." They walked away holding hands through the redwoods.

Afterwards, Sam Osborne, 26, of Rotorua, an off-road triathlete who came third on Sunday's world champs, said, "They congratulated me and we spoke about the forest. They wanted to know how many hours I spend here. I don't think they understood how huge the park is. They were very respectful, average people. They're humble and nice-natured."


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