Prince William Visits N.Z. Quake Zone

March 17, 2011— -- Prince William was stunned by the damage in Christchurch, his first stop on a five-day tour through the hard-hit areas.

"Just the scale of it," Prince William said, "it's unbelievable."

The streets of Christchurch are still evacuated, except for officials and construction workers. No one is even allowed to enter downtown, which they now call the red zone.

The prince was taken to several sites around the city to thank the search and rescue teams who have been working almost nonstop for nearly a month.

"Without all the help you guys have been doing it could be a lot worse. A big pat on the backs, " Prince William told them. "You've done a fantastic job."

The 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch on Feb. 22. The death toll currently stands at 166, but is expected to rise. And the earthquakes are still not over, aftershocks continue to rock the city.

Bob Parker, the mayor of Christchurch, said hundreds of people had lined the streets to greet Prince William, according to Telegraph. His presence, a source of comfort.

"Our people need a boost, and this is working very well," Parker said.

The Prince also privately met with some of the victims of the earthquake who had survived.

This is the last overseas trip for Prince William before he gets married next month. His fiancée, Kate Middleton, did not join him as his visit is an official royal tour.

Traditionally, Queen Elizabeth would have made this visit. The Queen is New Zealand's sovereign. The country is part of the Commonwealth group of nations. But Prince William has a fondness for New Zealand, and is taking on more royal responsibilities. He last visited the country in January 2010.

"I love New Zealand and I'm glad to be back," Prince William said.

On Friday, the prince will speak at a memorial service for those killed in the earthquake.