Missiles, rockets and torpedoes: A look onboard USS Howard, the US Navy ship docked in Wellington

For the first time in five years, a US Navy vessel has docked in New Zealand waters.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Howard is in Wellington to take part in exercises and engagements with our Defence Force (NZDF).

It was a warm but windy Wellington welcome for the vessel on Friday.

"The Wellington wind - I am fascinated by that," said commanding officer Travis Montplaisir. "We received a brief from the colonel this morning telling us it's the windiest city in the world."

The US warship is in our waters to conduct exercises with the NZDF.

"We share ideas, we talk about the co-operation and the bonds that make us stronger - and that togetherness allows us to build the relationship we need for future events," Montplaisir explained.

The ship has made its way here from Japan. All crew are double-vaccinated and required a negative COVID-19 test before disembarking.

That was something the NZDF helped out with.

"A NZ C130 flew out and airdropped the PCR tests to us. There were four bags, I think 360 tests," said Montplaisir.

Some of the ship's weapons include surface to air missiles, anti-submarine rockets, torpedoes and a five-inch rapid fire deck gun.

It also stores two helicopters.

"They're helicopters that we use for surface search, as well as primarily anti-submarine warfare," Montplaisir said.

The visit is being labelled a win for the relationship between the two countries - which was tested in the 1980s by New Zealand's anti-nuclear stance.

The USS Howard is only the second US warship to enter our waters since then.

"The Ardern government will look upon this as a welcome opportunity to engage in this muli-lateral cooperation, or bilateral in naval terms, but with the possibility of expanding co-operation in the future," said Otago University Professor Robert Patman.

Montplaisir says the relationship between the US and New Zealand is "rock-solid, and it always has been".

But their relationship with the Wellington wind appears to be still up in the air.