STEWART ISLAND, New Zealand (AFP) - Britain's Prince Harry showed off his down-to-earth side on Sunday, shucking oysters and talking rugby as he ventured to the southernmost populated island of New Zealand.
About a quarter of the 378 residents of Stewart Island, including some of its eligible young women, managed to get up close to the royal bachelor as he casually mingled with locals on the remote outpost.
One of the youngest members in the crowd was 12-year-old Angus Kenny, who described Harry as "more down-to-earth than I thought he would be", adding that meeting the prince was "pretty cool".
As Harry was taught how to shuck oysters, a speciality seafood in the region, he impressed with his expectation that defending champions New Zealand will again make the Rugby World Cup finals this year while adding that his England team were also "very good".
The women of Stewart Island were thrilled with the arrival of the 30-year-old prince.
"I heard Harry is a rough guy, he can come down to me and I can show him rough. Living with limited phone service, no make up, hair straighteners, and living off nature and a generator, that's perfect," quipped 25-year-old Laurice Hawkless ahead of the prince's visit.
Pip Leask, 29, was recently married but told Fairfax Media other women were also excited about meeting the prince.
"They have been practising their curtsey. They have cups of tea and scones all sorted," she said.
The founder of the Stewart Island Singles Party, Doug Beck, said the local women were perfect for the fun-loving royal.
"They are straight up and down. Real Kiwi girls. They don't muck around with their words," he said.
Prince Harry revealed that at the top of his wishlist in the conservation region was to meet a live kiwi, the native bird that is one of the most prominent symbols of New Zealand, but he was to be disappointed.
On a side trip to the nearby pest-free island sanctuary of Ulva, the prince was treated to a getaway among plants and wildlife not seen anywhere else in the world.
He saw a rare weka, another flightless bird, and although there was no sign of any kiwis, the prince was impressed with his surroundings.
"It's really come to life after the rain yesterday," he said. "It's a beautiful place, it really is."