Royal Visit of 1953-54

Page 2 – Itinerary

See film of the royal tour:

Auckland to Gisborne (23 December 1953 - 6 January 1954)


Wednesday 23 December

A.M. SS Gothic berthed Auckland

Government address of welcome. Her Majesty and His Royal Highness set foot in New Zealand and were officially welcomed, Auckland Civic Reception, Town Hall.

P.M. Presentation of official tour and press parties. Garden party, Government House.

Thursday 24 December

A.M. Auckland Hospital, Youth gathering, Auckland Domain.

I was eighteen and a member of a marching team, one of the many at the Domain in Auckland, assembled in blocks with lots of other young peoples organisations, in the centre field waiting for our queen to arrive. While we were waiting, my Scots friend, also about eighteen, sat and explained to me why she as a Scot would not, could not, feel excited about Elizabeth as she was not, in reality, HER Queen let alone Queen Elizabeth II as true Scots had never even recognised the first Elizabeth … etc. etc. Finally, Elizabeth arrived and I, looking at her with curiosity, saw her look back at us as Philip said – and you could see what he was saying – ‘Who are they?’ – and her reply that we were ‘marching teams’. Unheard of in Britain and at that time unique to NZ. I can only think that that conversation between them had the effect of unleashing some sort of latent emotion because my Scots chum emitted what can only be described as a throaty roar of patriotism, wonderful in its intensity and then charged like a wounded bull out of our designated area, trying to barge like an All Black through another block of people in front to get even closer.

Caroline Woon

P.M. Presentation of Colour, Devonport Naval Base. Garden reception, Government House.

Friday 25 December

A.M. Divine Service, St Mary’s Cathedral.

P.M. Her Majesty’s Christmas Broadcast.

Saturday 26 December

A.M.-P.M. Auckland Racing Club, Ellerslie.

P.M. Royal Cinema Performance, St James Theatre.

Sunday 27 December

A.M. Divine Service, St Mary’s Cathedral.

Monday 28 December

A.M. Presentation of Colour, RNZAF Station, Whenuapai. By plane to Kaikohe - public welcome.

P.M. By car to Waitangi - ceremony, Whangārei - civic reception.


I remember the Queen’s visit to Whangarei, Northland. I was about 6 years of age then and the Royal Party was staying at the Grand Hotel. In the evening our family walked - about 20 minutes or so - to the Hotel and with many others chanted, ‘We want the Queen, we want the Queen’. This had no response (they were most probably having dinner) so the chant changed to ‘We want the Duke, we want the Duke’. This seemed to work as they soon appeared on the balcony to the loud cheers of the crowd. I was sitting on my father’s shoulders so had a great view. I remember they looked very happy, and there was a wonderful feeling in the crowd.

Margaret Lomas

Tuesday 29 December

A.M. By car Whangārei to Warkworth - public welcome.

P.M. By car to Puhoi Beach - picnic, and Auckland. Investiture, Town Hall.

Wednesday 30 December

A.M. By car to Pukekohe - public welcome. (See film of this on YouTube.)

P.M. By car to Alton Lodge, Te Kauwhata - lunch, Huntly - public welcome, Tūrangawaewae, Ngāruawāhia - visit pā, and Hamilton - civic dinner and youth fiesta.

Thursday 31 December

A.M. Hamilton - civic reception and agricultural display, Claudelands Show Grounds.

P.M. By car to Te Kuiti - public welcome.

A.M.-P.M. HRH by air to Wellington - funeral of victims, Tangiwai railway accident. Return to Waitomo Caves.

P.M. By car to Waitomo Caves - visit Aranui Cave and Waitomo Glow-worm Cave.


Friday 1 January

A.M. By car Waitomo Caves to Te Awamutu - public welcome, and Cambridge - public welcome and civic luncheon.

P.M. By car to Karāpiro Hydro-electric Station - inspection, Tirau - public welcome, and Moose Lodge, Lake Rotoiti.

Saturday 2 January

A.M. Rotorua - civic reception, Motutara Golf Course, and civic luncheon.

P.M. Māori reception, Arawa Park, Rotorua.

Sunday 3 January

A.M. Divine Service, St John’s Presbyterian Church, Rotorua.

P.M. Whakarewarewa model village and thermal activity.

Monday 4 January - Tuesday 5 January

At Moose Lodge, Lake Rotoiti - no official engagements.

Wednesday 6 January

A.M. By car Moose Lodge to Rotorua, and plane to Gisborne.

Gisborne to Wellington (6-16 January 1954)

Wednesday 6 January

A.M. Arrival at Gisborne airport - civic reception.

P.M. By air to Napier - civic reception. HRH to Hawke’s Bay Ex-Naval Officers.

Thursday 7 January

A.M. By car Napier to Hastings - public welcome, and J. Wattie Canneries Ltd.

P.M. By train to Waipawa - public welcome, Waipukurau - public welcome, Dannevirke - public welcome, Woodville - public welcome, and Palmerston North - civic reception and civic dinner.

Thousands of people from all over Central Hawke’s Bay were gathered at the Railway Station in Waipukurau on 7 January 1954. A ripple of excitement sweeping through the crowd heralded the arrival of the Royal Train with crimson carriages and a gleaming white roof. When the Queen and Duke stepped from the train they were met by my Uncle Jack McCarthy, Mayor of Waipukurau, and Aunty Tess, and then they all walked along a pathway between ropes of beautiful flowers to a dais. Uncle Jack proudly welcomed Her Majesty and His Royal Highness to his town.

Moira Draper

Friday 8 January

A.M.-P.M. By train Palmerston North to Feilding - public welcome, Marton Junction - public welcome, Whanganui - civic reception, Pātea - public welcome, Hāwera - ceremonial drive, Stratford - public welcome, and New Plymouth.


I was a young school teacher and a cub leader in Hawera…. the streets chosen [for the visit] had some very unsightly buildings and the powers that be who arrange these things decided something had to be done to cover these sights from royal eyes. Every school child set about making paper flowers in red, white and blue crepe paper. These were gathered and hung on these.

Judith Foy

Saturday 9 January

A.M. By car to Bell Block Dairy Factory. New Plymouth - civic reception, Pukekura Park.

P.M. By plane to Paraparaumu airport, and by car to Wellington - brief civic welcome.

Sunday 10 January

A.M. Divine Service, Cathedral Church of St Paul.

Monday 11 January

A.M. Wellington civic reception, Town Hall. Wreath laid, Wellington War Memorial.

P.M. State luncheon, Parliament House. By car via Petone assembly factory, Ford Motor Company, Lower Hutt - inspection St James’ Church. Reception of heads of diplomatic missions, Government House.

Tuesday 12 January

A.M. Children’s gathering, Athletic Park.

P.M. Opening of special session of Parliament. Reception for Members of Parliament and wives, Parliament House. Investiture, Wellington Town Hall.

Wednesday 13 January

A.M. Laying foundation stone of Anglican Cathedral. Meeting of Privy Council and Executive Council.

P.M. HRH address to and luncheon with scientific organisations. Presentation of address in reply. Garden party.

Thursday 14 January

A.M.-P.M. Wellington Racing Club, Trentham.

Friday 15 January

A.M. By train Wellington to Masterton.

I remember when the Queen and Duke visited Masterton on January 15th, 1954, and drove through the grounds of Wairarapa College. I was a pupil at Wairarapa College at the time, and although it was the school holidays and summer, we were asked to don our winter uniforms, which were obviously considered tidier than our summer uniforms….

Helen Turner

P.M. Masterton - civic reception. By car to Wellington via Carterton, Greytown, Featherston and Upper Hutt.

Wellington to Christchurch (16-22 January 1954)

Saturday 16 January

A.M. By car Wellington to Paraparaumu airport. By plane to RNZAF Station, Woodbourne, and car to Blenheim - public welcome.

P.M. By car to Woodbourne and plane to Nelson - civic reception.

Sunday 17 January

A.M. Divine Service, Nelson Cathedral.

I was 11 years old and the Queen and Duke were driving down High Street in Greymouth. The crowds were very thick and I wiggled to the front just as their car was passing, the Queen smiled at me and I was hooked. An instant avid royalist. I then ran alongside the car for about half a mile at which time the Duke of Edinburgh looked across and said, ‘If you run much further, you will burst’. Well I was just totally blown away. That evening practically the entire population was gathered outside Revington’s Hotel where the Royal couple were staying, calling ‘We want the Queen’. Then as soon as everything went quiet this little eleven year old stood and yelled at the top of her voice. ‘I want the Duke’. The Royal Couple came out onto the balcony and waved and the crowd went wild, especially me - I was totally convinced the Duke only came out because I called for him to do so.

Pat Jamieson

P.M. By plane, Nelson to Westport, public welcome – and Hokitika. By car to Greymouth.

In preparation for the Royal Visit only the left-side of the 25-mile roadway was re-sealed between Hokitika and Greymouth; for some years later known locally as ‘Lizzie’s side’.

Bev Huston

Monday 18 January

A.M. Civic reception, Greymouth. By train via Ōtira to Darfield - public welcome, and Christchurch.

Tuesday 19 January

A.M. Civic reception, Cathedral Square, Christchurch. Christchurch Hospital.

P.M. Ceremonial drive. Disabled Servicemen’s Training Centre - Evensong, Christchurch Cathedral. Civic dinner.

Wednesday 20 January

A.M. Factory of Lane Walker Rudkin, Ltd.

P.M. HRH address to and luncheon with Canterbury Chamber of Commerce. Investiture, Civic Theatre. Civic garden party.

Thursday 21 January

A.M.-P.M. New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club, Addington.

Friday 22 January

A.M. By car to military camp, Burnham, and Ashburton.

P.M. Public welcome, Ashburton. By car to Longbeach.

Ashburton to Bluff and beyond (22-31 January 1954)

Saturday 23 January

HRH visited Winchmore Irrigation Research Station.

Sunday 24 January

A.M. Divine Service, Longbeach.

Monday 25 January

A.M. By car Longbeach to Timaru - civic reception.

As a six year old I remember journeying from Pleasant Point to Timaru with the rest of the family, in my father’s old square Erskine car, and joining the crowd near the Viaduct at the top of Caroline Bay, the route the Queen would be taking on her way to the official function. The town was beautifully decorated for the event and there were very large crowds of excited people all waving flags.

Daphne-Anne Freeke (née Hoare)

P.M. By train to Ōamaru – public welcome, Palmerston – public welcome, and Dunedin.

Tuesday 26 January

A.M. Civic reception, Dunedin Town Hall.

P.M. Sports meeting, Carisbrook. Royal concert, Town Hall.

Wednesday 27 January

A.M. Ross and Glendinning’s Roslyn Woollen Mills.

P.M. Her Majesty to Truby King-Harris (Karitane) Hospital. HRH with leading sportsmen. Reception, Art Gallery.

Thursday 28 January

A.M. By car Dunedin to Milton - public welcome, Balclutha - public welcome, Gore - public welcome, and Invercargill.

Friday 29 January

A.M. Civic reception, Invercargill.

P.M. Royal Agricultural Show and Caledonian Sports Meeting. Her Majesty’s farewell broadcast.

Saturday 30 January

A.M. By car Invercargill to Bluff. Official farewells and embarkation. Leave New Zealand in SS Gothic.

Sunday 31 January

Unscheduled visit by SS Gothic to Milford Sound.

How to cite this page

'Itinerary', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 14-Sep-2022

Community contributions

19 comments have been posted about Itinerary

What do you know?


Posted: 08 Jul 2015

The article states "Tuesday 29 December P.M. By car to Puhoi Beach"

There is NO beach at Puhoi. It was Wenderholm Beach, just south of Puhoi.

Margaret Morgan

Posted: 12 Mar 2015

My father worked for the Ford Motor Company and we were invited to see the royal visitors outside the front of the factory. I was six years old and recall my mother making me a blue flocked nylon dress for the occasion and the new black patent leather shoes. It is a special moment etched in my mind.

Graham Tritt

Posted: 26 Dec 2013

The first event of my life which I can actually remember was the visit of Queen Elizabeth II in their special train which stopped at the station of my home town of Dannevirke. I was 44 months old, nearly 4!

With my parents Fred and Lorna, my brothers Michael, Dennis in pushchair and Steve in pram ("perambulator"), we wildly waved little Union Jack flags and cheered. Our Queen descended from the train and speeches were made.

I had a problem the next day, in the kindergarten. Can you imagine?

I was a son from an Irish Catholic line (my mother) and German Protestants (my father). We lived in an town of immigrants seeking freedom from European feudalism: Dannevirke ("work of the Danes"); the next town was "Norwood" for its Norse settlers. New Zealand was a new Nation, becoming parlamentarily separate from Britain in 1947.

Yet here was I, as a monarchist, supporting the representatives of the old order, blindly caught up in the emotion of the moment and the enthusiasm of the crowd. And I was unmercilessly teased the next day by the children of local socialists and communists. I had to admit my sins at the next confession before Sunday mass ...

You will understand that this was a formative event in my life. It is perhaps the reason that later (1996) I helped build a local Toastmasters club and have been active ever since.

John Burton

Posted: 18 Apr 2013

My brother, Richard, (14) and I (17) cycled from Dunedin to Invercargill to attend the Royal Agricultural Show and see the Gothic off from Bluff. We camped in a tent beside the road near Clinton on Wednesday January 27th and my memory is of the multitude of rabbits we saw when we got out of the tent on the Thursday morning. We had intended to cycle to Invercargill that day, but were held up and required to stand at the side of the road near Dacre to allow the Royal entourage to pass. The Duke saw us and we saw him nudge the Queen. Both of them waved to us, the only humans in sight on that part of State Highway 1. We felt very special. We continued our journey on what was a warm day and called at a house at the side of the road to ask for a drink of water. We were immediately taken in, given food and a bed for the night, and transported to the showgrounds in the morning. What kindness. We did complete our trip and waved goodbye to the Royal Couple at Bluff but we caught the train back to Dunedin; the thought of cycling back was a bit much. It was a memorable experiance for us both.

Richard Quartermaine

Posted: 04 Nov 2012

I was captain's Steward aboard the SS 'Gothic'in Auckland anchored between Browns Beach and Rangitoto Island for weeks during the 1951 dock strike. It was decided by British Admiralty that the delay of the Gothic and her sister ship Corinthic which had been chosen for the 1952 Royal Tour by King George and his Queen, Elizabeth, placed Gothic as their preferred ship. We were rushed through unloading and loading by the troops and returned to England for a refit. To see some photos and memorabilia of the trip click on my website . It was an interest experience. Richard Q

Jeanette Clarke

Posted: 09 Jun 2012

We were camping at Gisborne that summer and went to the racecourse where all the local dignatories would be presented to her with a huge audience of locals swollen by holiday makers. The day of the Queen's visit [Jan 6th] was very hot and windy. My mother had a wide mouthed thermos flask which she filled with icecream and we went along armed with this and folding camp stools. It was a long wait in the hot sun and we were the envy of our neighbours as we refreshed ourselves with icecream. When the royal party finally arrived, the wind had got up. This was the era of calf length full skirts and picture hats. The local ladies being presented to the Queen on the dais had a problem. Did they hold onto their hats or their skirts? The Queen shared their problem. There was one unforgettable moment when the royal skirts and petticoats rose to shoulder height before she let her hat take its chances. What a pity my father was too late with his camera! If any of the media cameras caught that moment, it is probably the pride of a private collection as it certainly never made any paper's front page that I saw.

Ian D KIng

Posted: 09 Apr 2011

HM the Queen attended a Guard of Honour at Burnham Camp. The composite band for this parade was formed from volunteers, with drummers coming from Christchurh secondary schools (mainly St Bedes College and ChCh Boy's High School) It was an unforgeetable occasion, especially as youngsters we were introduced to service life,and disciplin, but more importantly felt we were truly part of the British Commonwealth. The experience caused me to join the Armed Forces (RNZAF)were I served for some 25 years

Don McKenzie

Posted: 04 Feb 2011

Gaute Grov's comment does not ring quite true. A Brit Officer in Burnham Camp training NZ recruits?? - does not ring true.
For more positive account see a newly published book "Auckland Infantry", published by the 3rd Battalion,(Auckland (CRO) and Northland) Regimental Association. Wtiters; Peter Cooke, John H Gray and Ken Stead,

Gaute Grov

Posted: 28 Dec 2010

I was an 18-year-old serving Compulsory Military Training at Burnham camp during the Royal visit in January 1953. Preparations reached the absurd. It was extremely hot - at one site a plank had beeen left lying on a plush lawn and, when removed, the grass underneath was yellow. This patch was painted green! The day before the actual visit was a rehearsal, one of many. Young soldiers stood for hours in burning sun while a 'Royal cortege' drove by. I overheard a Brit officer, acting as the Duke of Edinburgh, say loudly to his companion, 'The Queen', "and who are all these bastards, your majesty?". Word went round the baracks and the Royal visit was decidedly unwelcome!