Travel Guide to Whanganui, New Zealand

Whanganui is one of the most scenic regions in New Zealand as the regional landscapes are utterly spectacular. Almost every natural scene that you come across when traveling across the city will undoubtedly be a memorable one as abundant rivers, lush green pastures and breathtaking mountain tops can be spotted with ease.

Here are places to visit in Whanganui, New Zealand.

  • Whanganui Regional Museum: One of the best New Zealand natural history museums, the regional museum is a great place to start your trip. Te Atihaunui-a-Pāpārange Māori exhibits include a great canoe (waka), bird spears (fire-hardened here), and some vicious-looking mere (greenstone clubs). Wildlife and colonial installations are upstairs, including plenty of skeletons and fossils.
  • Durie Hill Elevator: Crossing City Bridge from downtown Whanganui, this elevator was constructed with extraordinary insights for Durie Hill’s suburban future. Beyond an entryway lined with Māori carvings, a tunnel burrows 210m into the hillside, from where a 1919 elevator rattles 65m to the summit. At the top, you can climb the 176 steps of the 33.5m War Memorial Tower and browse the horizon for Mt Ruapehu and Mt Taranaki.
  • Putiki Church: Across the City Bridge from town and 1km towards the sea is the Putiki Church. What’s inside that counts: the beautiful rooms are covered in tukutuku (wall panels) and Māori carvings. Show up for Sunday service, or pre-book a tour.
  • Virginia Lake: A few miles northwest of the center, Virginia Lake is the ideal place for a stroll (around the woodland walk or the lake). Aside from the ducks, there’s an aviary with cheeky cockatoos, the Winter Gardens, a marble garden, a cafe, and a park.
  • Castlecliff Beach: Follow the Whanganui River’s western riverbank towards the sea for 5 miles. You’ll reach Castlecliff, a remarkably low-key beach ‘burb dominated by a substantial cat-food factory and the excellent black-sand Castlecliff Beach. There are guarded swimming here in summer, plus skate park, a playground, and views up the coast to Mt Taranaki. Let the kids walk free.
  • Whanganui National Park: The Whanganui River snakes its way from the hills to the Tasman Sea through many peaks and valleys. Lowland forest encompasses the river in its core and lower reaches – the heart of Whanganui National Park. Tramping cuts through wild lowland forests and river voyages down the powerful Whanganui are favorite activities. The area has a vibrant history, and Maori culture is an integral part of the park adventure.

Things to do in Whanganui, New Zealand:

  • Stroll Across Atene Viewpoint Walk: Atene Viewpoint Walk is a 4.0 kilometer out and back trail near Wanganui. It is a quick bushy walk through the farmland and forests. It is an easy tramping track with lush green areas and some stairs.
  • Take a cruise on Paddle Steamer Waimarie: The Waimarie is a unique turn-of-the-century paddle steamer and the only running coal-fired paddle steamer in New Zealand. If you are interested in a bit of history on your list of stuff to explore in Whanganui – then step back in time and take a leisurely cruise on the mighty Whanganui River!
  • Eat: Art meets caffeine at Waimarie, New Zealand. Look out for numerous cafes and restaurants serving you wraps, sandwiches, bagels, cakes, scones, slices, salads, and coffee.

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