I’m not much of a Royalist in fact I’m one of those (sshh) Republicans really, but everyone is getting ants in the pantsy about Kate and Wills and Gorgeous Georges’ arrival tomorrow, and I’m no exception.
I bet even the Royal folks themselves are wet the pants excited. Who wouldn’t be? They’ve got an exciting itinerary planned. There’s that big trip to the sprawling metropolis Cambridge (pop 15192), an afternoon chatting with Mums and Bubs in Wellington and an exceptional opportunity for a BIG laugh at the state Reception where Wills gets to unveil a portrait of his Grandma.
Is that really all NZ can offer this young family? Really? New Zealand the bungy jumping, wine growing, craft beer loving, surfing, sailing adventure-central?
How old were the planners? I’m pretty sure neither Kate or Wills are nearing 60, nor are they particularly shy and retiring. I think they’ve got it all wrong. If it had been left to me I would have spent some time planning a trip that would really knock their socks off, just as we did for young Chelsea Clinton all those years ago, and for so many others.
I get that we can’t send the future King of England off the bridge on the end of a rope or whet his whistle with a little canyoning or speklunking but surely, surely NZ has more to offer this very modern young Royal family.
My trip to NZ would include arriving in Auckland first. Doh! Why Wellington? I mean Wellington on a good day is unbeatable but chances of that happening versus the more likely cheerful puddle, are not terribly good. Auckland however is stunning even on a wet day, and flying over the city after that long, long trip is enough to raise anyone’s spirits.
I’d follow that grand entrance with a lay day. A day where they can do what it says on the tin – lay down and do nothing. That first day in town is exhausting and it really does take every ounce of strength to get to the end of the day and a typical bedtime (albeit early) as strongly advised to wage off jet-lag is hard work for adults, let alone a baby!
The rest of the time in NZ I would ensure they really got a great sense of the country. We already know that Wills is into anything aeronautical so perhaps the visit to Hamilton’s Pacific Aerospace is a good idea, but what about chucking in some flying experiences..maybe a heli ride up to the top of one of the mountains – North or South Island, doesn’t matter. Or a heli mountain-biking trip or heli fishing off the coast of Auckland and Great Barrier Island?
Whilst Wills is enjoying his boys’ toys, maybe Kate would enjoy doing a country market or tasting some of the country’s best home-grown foodie products and a decent latte – like every other young Mum I know! Sure, the nanny and entourage will be there to ensure the young rapscallion won’t get into trouble whilst Mum’s licking the fluffy milk off the back of the spoon but surely the experience in a cool cafe (Ponsonby or Mission Bay somewhere or even seaside at Lyall Bay in Wellington) would give Kate a welcome reminder of an everyday pleasure that is surely the hallmark of that baby stage of your life!
As a couple, Kate and Wills are lucky to enjoy the attentions of staff who can ensure that George doesn’t muck up his bedtime routine, so the world is their oyster. They could head out anywhere to enjoy some of the best fresh food and wine New Zealand has to offer. I know they’re heading to Amisfield in Queenstown (and good on them that sounds like fun!) but what about some of the other incredible places? What about popping across to Waiheke and enjoying a gorgeous time at Mudbrick or one of the other fantastic vineyards over there? Even the New York Times included Waiheke Island on its list of must-see places in 2014.
And why in hell would you go all the way to Cambridge (yeah cute, I get that) and NOT go to Hobbiton which is just up the road?
Of all the places in my old student town Dunedin that I think is a must-see the cathedral actually isn’t one of them. How about a tour of the University of Dunedin? After all both Wills and Kate went to uni in Scotland and Dunedin and its university were modelled on the city of Edinburgh and its academic institutions. Or even a trip out to Tunnel Beach would be cool. It’s a stunning wild spot and was recently voted onto the list of New Zealand’s best beaches. I’m sure the royal entourage have a beach-going buggy for young George.
I get the meeting with local Mums at the Plunket do in Wellington, but rather than having it at Government House (yawn) what about a trip out to see the animals at the Zealandia. I think that has something for everyone.
All up I think we’re being bad hosts to the Royal family. We’re demanding they get on that hellish plane trip out from Blighty with a young baby (surely one of Dantes Circles of Inferno) and then we ‘treat’ them to a yawn-fest of opening ceremonies and cheek-kissing.
But I suppose the ocean yacht racing will be fun and appropriate given that the City of Sails has more yachts per capita than every other city in the world. Just a quick word of advice Wills – don’t mention the America’s Cup!
What would you want to see if you were to head out to New Zealand on an all-expenses paid trip? And if you are Kiwi what one thing would you want Kate and Wills to see in NZ?
NB/ In my research for this blog post I came across this report of the Royal Itinerary from that esteemed organ The Mirror. Interesting to see their review of my home city, but what’s with the pigeon mail?