Royals moved by NZ earthquake reminders

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have paid tribute to the resilience of Christchurch's citizens and they showed the admiration was mutual.

A bitter chill set over the Garden City but there was nothing frosty about the reception the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge received.

Prince William attended a moving memorial in Christchurch a mere three weeks after it was devastated by a 6.3 earthquake in February 2011, and his return with the duchess at his side was poignant for both the couple and the city.

William and Kate spoke at length with the families of four quake victims at the memorial park for the CTV building, which claimed 115 victims when it crumbled in the tremor.

The royal couple even cast aside their carefully planned schedule, choosing to meet many more, including CTV receptionist Mary-Anne Jackson, who fled the building just before it collapsed.

William later paid tribute to the city's resilience in a speech to 500 business people at the New Zealand Air Force Museum at Wigram, and said he'd been moved by his second visit.

"Christchurch is a city which has chosen not only to survive but to thrive," William said.

"Catherine and I have found ourselves moved this morning by the reminders of how awful the second earthquake was."

He said Christchurch remained a buzzing, thriving city, and life went on with classic Kiwi humour, creativity, innovation, and determination.

"The reason why the earthquakes did not defeat Christchurch is because of you."

The admiration was clearly mutual. Wherever they went, the royals were inundated with attention and gifts, including balloons, flowers, toys and a book named George Meets the Kiwi, handmade by 13-year-old Tilly-Belle Robinson.

Thousands awaited Kate and William at Latimer Square, and hundreds braved the cold at the Botanic Gardens and Wigram Air Force Museum.

But it was too much for one elderly fan who fainted and required paramedic attention while the royals ate lunch at the museum.

At times emotional, the Christchurch visit was also punctuated with some lighter moments.

Both still in formal clothes, Prince William bowled to his wife in a mini cricket game in Latimer Square.

His first was off target, but Kate managed to channel her hockey prowess and hit two of them with the plastic yellow bat.

After their short visit to a Christchurch, the royals jetted back to Wellington for a quintessential Kiwi dinner with Prime Minister John Key, wife Bronagh and teenage son Max at Premier House.

The dinner catered by minor NZ celebrity chef Ruth Pretty will feature fish, seafood, lamb and be matched with a Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc.

The duke and duchess will have a day of rest on Tuesday before jetting off to Sydney on Wednesday.

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