Skip to main content

New Zealand's first royal visit

11 April 1869

Engraving of the Duke of Edinburgh's visit to Auckland
Engraving of the Duke of Edinburgh's visit to Auckland (Alexander Turnbull Library, 1/2-002559-F)

The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Alfred Ernest Albert, arrived in Wellington as captain of the frigate HMS Galatea. The first member of the British royal family to visit New Zealand, he was greeted with haka, speeches and bunting.

Prince Alfred, the second son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, made three visits to New Zealand in 1869 and 1870. A planned visit in 1868 had been cancelled after a gunman wounded the prince in Sydney.

During his 1869 visit, the prince spent nearly a week in the capital, attending official functions and enjoying a pig hunt before sailing to Nelson. He subsequently visited Christchurch, Dunedin and Auckland, where he received 150 Māori chiefs and shot pūkeko and pigeons. The prince’s warship returned briefly to Wellington in late August 1870 and made a final visit in December.

To commemorate the first royal visit, a district in Bay of Plenty was named after the prince’s vessel. The name Galatea was originally applied to an Armed Constabulary redoubt built during the hunt for the Māori resistance leader Te Kooti

How to cite this page

New Zealand's first royal visit, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated