The picturesque river district of Wanganui is located on the West coast of New Zealand’s North Island, just 2 ½ hours’ drive from the capital, Wellington. The town itself lies on the South Taranaki Bite near the mouth of the Whanganui River and is famous for its parklands and reserves, cycling and walking tracks and for its vibrant arts and culture.
Wanganui means ‘Big Bay’ or ‘Big Harbour’, and as the name suggests, there is a deep spiritual, cultural and historical relationship between the local people and the river. There is a local saying ‘I am the river, the river is me’, that captures the strong bond between the two.
With a population of 43,000 Wanganui is big enough to be vibrant, but small enough to provide a calm, tranquil and intimate getaway for your next holiday. The town’s vibrant urban centre makes it a great base for those who want to explore the breathtaking scenery of the Wanganui district. For those looking for comfortable and centrally located accommodation the Quality Inn Collegiate provides a spa, mini gym, café, restaurant and bar to keep you refreshed after a long day of sightseeing.
Explore the deep winding waters of the Whanganui River by kayak, jet boat or paddle steamer. New Zealand’s longest navigable waterway, the 290 kilometre long Whanganui River runs from Mount Tongariro to the sea and is surrounded by breathtaking and rugged hill country that is a pleasure to explore. Take a scenic kayak tour for the best views of the fascinating mudstone formations, steep slopes and razor sharp cliffs that line the banks of this mystical waterway. Or cruise the scenic Whanganui River Road to see farming villages, water mills and beautiful Marae trees.
Wanganui National Park
Explore the native lowland forests of Wanganui National Park, famous for its abundant birdlife. Discover the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ across Mangapurua Gorge and take a trip back in time to an isolated early pioneering mountain settlement abandoned in 1942. The Park is famous for its canoe and kayak safaris. Why not cruise up river and visit the local Tieke Marae run by local Maori and see traditional customs in action?
Arts and culture
Wanganui has a rich cultural heritage centred on the Whanganui River that was once a major transport route for Maori and early settlers alike. The town itself is set right on the banks of the magnificent winding river and is bursting with cultural and historical landmarks to explore.
A trip to Wanganui would not be complete without a tour of the Queens Park cultural hub in the heart of town. Within the Queens Park precinct you will find the iconic Sarjeant Gallery, Whanganui Regional Museum and War Memorial Centre. Why not pack a picnic and enjoy views of the river from one of the Queens Park green spaces. Or board the famous Underground Elevator from the War Memorial and soak up spectacular views of the mountains from Durie Hill. There are steps to the top for those who like to take in the breathtaking scenery by foot.
The Wanganui district is rich with culture, history and breathtaking scenery and is the perfect destination for you next New Zealand getaway.