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Security tight as Key arrives at Gallipoli

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 24/04/2015

Security in tight in Gallipoli. © Getty Images Security in tight in Gallipoli.

Security was tight as Prime Minister John Key arrived on the Gallipoli Peninsula where he's visiting the major memorials ahead of Anzac Day.

Road blocks monitored by armed police were in place on Friday along the stony streets of Eceabat in preparation for Mr Key's motorcade arrival.

Mr Key and his wife Bronagh are taking in memorials at Lone Pine, The Nek, Quinn's Post and Chunuk Bair.

"It's very peaceful," Mr Key said to his wife as he snapped a picture of the Lone Pine memorial on his smart phone.

The couple then placed a poppy at the site and bowed their heads in a moment of silence.

Leading Kiwi military historian Christopher Pugsley, who's part of the official NZ delegation, gave Mr Key a historical rundown, explaining that hundreds of Kiwis were buried at sea.

At Quinn's Post, Dr Pugsley explained how the Kiwi and Ottoman trenches were only metres apart.

Mr Key will also visit Chunuk Bair where 632 Kiwi soldiers are buried - almost all in a mass grave on the grassy slope held by New Zealand troops for two days in the August 1915 offensive.

The area is practically empty as organisers lock down the reserve ahead of the Anzac centenary commemorations.

The prime minister will attend the French service, the Turkish international service and the Commonwealth and Irish service on Friday afternoon before heading to the Anzac Commemorative Site at North Beach with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to meet the first of pilgrims.

Mr Key has been in Istanbul since Wednesday night where he's spoken at a peace conference and held bilateral talks with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu.

He'll be hoping the focus stays off criticism that's dogged him since news came out of him repetitively pulling a waitress's ponytail at an Auckland cafe.

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