By 3news.co.nz staff
Prince William is to attend next week's national memorial service in Christchurch, and will also visit Greymouth to meet the families of the Pike River victims.
His visit is expected to boost morale in Christchurch, after the devastating February 22 earthquake.
The 28-year-old will arrive in New Zealand on March 17 and he will attend the National Memorial Service at North Hagley Park on March 18.
Prince William will attend the service alone. With just weeks to the royal wedding, perhaps it's not surprising that Kate Middleton isn't coming.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says the visit is a much appreciated gesture.
“To have a member of the royal family here, I think it does remind us that we're part of a bigger family, and especially when you’re in the middle of preparing the big knees up and to take time out from that means a great deal to us,” he says.
The Prince will also visit Greymouth to speak to the families of the Pike River mine disaster.
“This is a heart warming gesture that will mean a lot to the thousands of people whose lives have been forever changed by these events,” Prime Minister John Key said today.
Mr Key thanked the Queen for “thinking of New Zealand in its darkest hours” and says he is very much looking forward to seeing Prince William again, “even though it is in very sad circumstances”.
But not everyone is happy about the visit. Some people in Christchurch said while his visit is a nice gesture, they have got much more on their minds.
“Maybe if he came a week earlier with a shovel or something and helped out,” says one resident.
Prince William will fly to Australia on March 19 where he will visit areas affected by Queensland’s cyclone and flooding.