Queen Elizabeth II has expressed admiration for people who showed courage during a "difficult year" of heavy flooding in Australian towns and a devastating earthquake in New Zealand's second largest city.

The 85-year-old British monarch was speaking Friday at a reception at Parliament House in the capital, Canberra, during her 16th visit to Australia since 1954.

She reflected on Australia's record floods over the southern summer that killed 35 people.

The earthquake in neighboring New Zealand in February hit the city of Christchurch, killing at least 169 people.

The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, will end their 10-day visit next week by opening a meeting of the 54-nation Commonwealth in the city of Perth.