Some of New Zealand’s best-known athletes will turn out next week to welcome the Queen’s Baton as it arrives in New Zealand, marking the final countdown to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. 

With a message from Her Majesty the Queen secured inside, the Baton is a symbol of the Commonwealth Games. Monday's arrival in New Zealand kicks off final leg of the baton's 230,000 kilometre voyage around the Commonwealth.

The Baton’s visit will connect current athletes including Sophie Pascoe, Dame Valerie Adams, Richie Patterson with Commonwealth greats such as Sir John Walker, Dick Taylor, Valerie Young and Precious McKenzie, as well as the New Zealand public.

New Zealanders are invited to join athletes and take part in events throughout Auckland, Queenstown, Christchurch and Kaikoura from Monday 18 December – Saturday 23 December.

Patterson, who won gold at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in weightlifting, and was New Zealand’s closing ceremony flagbearer, will be the first New Zealand athlete to carry the Queen’s Baton as it is welcomed with a powhiri in Auckland on Monday morning.

Patterson said the baton's visit will give him an opportunity to get to know athletes that have helped shaped New Zealand's history as well as let Kiwis know the Commonwealth Games are just over 100 Days away. 

“The Queen’s Baton Relay is really a great way to bring people together ahead of the Gold Coast games," he said of the April 2018 event. "I'll be looking forward to swapping stories with Precious McKenzie during the week. He’s a real inspiration for athletes like me who can learn a lot from his experiences.”

Dame Valerie Adams, who will take part in a visit with the Queen’s Baton to Otara Markets on Saturday 23 December, said she’s looking forward to connecting sport and athletes with communities.

“The Queen’s Baton Relay is an awesome chance to get out and talk to people about how sport can make a difference,” she said.” I’m a big supporter of our Pacific communities and taking the Queen’s Baton to the Otara Market will give me a chance to meet people, talk about the Gold Coast Games and encourage people to get active and involved in sport.

New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith said she looked forward to the arrival of the Queen’s Baton. “The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games will be outstanding for New Zealand. The Queen’s Baton relay gives communities a chance to get excited about the games a try out some Commonwealth sports and meet some of our best-known athletes.”

Smith added that she’s especially looking forward to taking the Queen’s Baton to Kaikoura as well as taking part in a formal handover of the baton to the Yugambeh people of the Gold Coast at the conclusion of the relay.

Around 40 athletes will take part in the week’s celebrations which begin Monday 18 December in Auckland. 

The Queen’s Baton travels to Queenstown (18 December), Kaikoura (19 December), Christchurch (20 December), Auckland CBD (21 December), Auckland North Shore (22 December) and South Auckland (23 December). New Zealanders can CLICK HERE  for more detail about public events. 

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