Prince Harry says Volunteer Army model should be "replicated across the world".

Rain, thunder, hail and lightning greeted Prince Harry this afternoon as he visited Canterbury University's Student Volunteer Army (SVA).

The army was formed to help after the earthquakes and is still going strong dealing with disasters here and abroad.

Prince Harry said he believed the SVA model should be "replicated across the world".

"It's little things like that that make such a difference," he said.

The impromptu weather bomb was definitely not part of the plan but the hundreds of students who turned out to see the prince stuck it out in the unpleasant conditions, with the help of the SVA who handed out plastic ponchos.

Once inside and out of the weather Prince Harry heard just how the SVA kicked in during the Christchurch quakes.

He met with founder Sam Johnson, only just back from Nepal where he's been helping local youth groups create their own disaster response movement.

And the prince's approval means a lot to Mr Johnson.

"It's more the prince saying 'this is the most important thing you can do'. You can contribute your skills, service and time to make a better world and that's what we're really wanting to share with him," he said.

A brief break in the rain clouds saw Prince Harry given a golden gift outside, where he was told about the army's bike recycling project.

"It's about getting old bikes from the university that are left around, restoring them with students and giving them out to people who've had their bikes stolen," said student Florence Hinder.

Christchurch has seen strong support from the royals, with Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Charles and Camilla, all visiting key sites since the deadly earthquakes. And now Prince Harry's left his mark here too.