Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit the Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand. Picture: AP

London - The Duke of Sussex revealed his secret nickname for the baby his wife Meghan is expecting as he referred in a speech on Monday to "our little bump".

The royal couple also comforted a five-year-old who was overwhelmed to meet them – by tickling his tummy – and met budding actors dressed as Lord Of The Rings characters.

Prince Harry made reference to Meghan’s pregnancy during a rainy visit to the Abel Tasman National Park on New Zealand’s South Island.

He told their hosts, a Maori tribe: "The rain is a blessing on all of us … from my wife, myself and our little bump, we are so grateful to be here.

"We bring blessings from my grandmother, Her Majesty the Queen, and all of our family." The local iwi, or tribe, welcomed Harry and Meghan with a traditional ceremony, including the blowing of a conch shell.

The couple pressed noses with a long line of people in a traditional Maori greeting known as a hongi.

Elder Barney Thomas wished them "kia kaha", or strength, for the baby they are expecting next spring, and urged them to relax and enjoy themselves during their visit.

"We know you don’t get much time off," he joked. During the energetic ceremony, Meghan’s seat was set a few inches back from her husband’s as a traditional sign of protection for pregnant women.

The royal couple held hands as they strolled through the Abel Tasman National Park, Meghan wearing a blue Seasalt waterproof jacket, black Outland jeans and £235 (about R4 400) Stella McCartney trainers. They saw a weka – a small flightless native bird that ranger Andrew Lamason told them is New Zealand’s version of a monkey due to its cheeky nature.

During a busy day of engagements Harry and his wife displayed a natural touch as they met schoolchildren.

They instinctively comforted a five-year-old who became overwhelmed when he met them outside a cafe in Wellington. Joe Young was on the end of the line of pupils and rubbed his eyes as the duke and duchess approached.

Meghan, in a seaweed green Club Monaco trench coat and black suede ankle boots, knelt to reassure him while Harry tickled his stomach.

"Joe was very nervous and Harry was very nice with him," said his teacher Monica Mercury. She added: "I’m a huge fan of Harry and I always wanted him to share his crazy life with someone, and he finally found someone – so I’m really happy for him."

Daily Mail