Prince William and Kate to head down under - report

Prince William and Kate Middleton are heading down under during a special royal visit to Australia's bushfire-ravaged towns after being "shocked and deeply saddened" by the destruction, Australian media reports.

The couple will visit Australian coastal towns ravaged by the fires to raise money for the survivors and volunteers, Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reports.

According to SMH, talks with Kensington Palace have been underway for weeks, and an official invitation from Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected in the coming days.

A spokesperson for New Zealand's Prime Minister's Office told Newshub it's aware of the speculation the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will visit Australia.

"There is always a standing invitation for senior members of the Royal family to visit New Zealand when timing suits on both sides, but there are no plans currently to invite the Duke and Duchess to visit in the near future," the spokesperson told Newshub.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge posted messages to their social media in the wake of the crisis, saying their thoughts "remain with those impacted and those working heroically to fight them".

"We continue to be shocked and deeply saddened to hear about the fires that are destroying homes, livelihoods and wildlife across much of Australia," they wrote.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all the people and communities who are affected by this devastating event.

"We send our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who have tragically lost their lives, and the brave firefighters who continue to risk their own lives to save the lives of others."

The couple last visited Australia in 2014 with Prince George, visiting Sydney, Brisbane, Uluru, Adelaide and Canberra.

Previously, Prince William visited areas of Queensland and Victoria damaged by floods in March 2011, and also visited New Zealand in April 2019 following the Christchurch mosque shootings.