Time out by the mystic river
Whanganui is a favourite weekend getaway for people from all over the country. Visitor numbers are increasing as people learn more about the place that was once the fourth largest city in New Zealand. History sits easily next to modern cafés and events, accommodation for all budgets and a beautiful natural environment to explore.
Located an hours flight away from Auckland with the family owned and community focused Air Chathams airline, Whanganui is central to New Zealand’s North Island.
A two hour drive from New Plymouth or a three hour drive from Wellington it’s easy to get to in a short space of time.
Whanganui is an ideal place to get away from the madding crowds and enjoy a more relaxed pace. As the Whanganui River flows through the town and out to the coastal beaches there is a sense of quiet majesty and space for time out.
Every weekend the riverbank hums with people visiting the Whanganui River Traders and Farmers Markets whether they’re having an easy brunch, doing their fresh food shopping or hunting for unique art and craft.
With numbers of stalls, buskers and in any weather, the markets are a must-do for a Saturday morning. It’s casual and relaxed with many stopping for a chat with neighbours, friends and newcomers.
The history and stories of the river are very real today with many taking the time to sail on one of our riverboats.
A stroll around the city centre allows for a self-guided heritage tour as you peer about the shops to discover the beautiful buildings and facades from a century gone by. The Visitor Centre and i-SITE was once a warehouse chocka-block full of hardware and imported goods for the growing town.
“Mable”, the town’s restored tram, is a beauty, over 100 years old and once operated between the town centre and Castlecliff beach for seaside excursions.
Numerous artist collectives and independent galleries feature within the CBD giving everyone easy access and a taste of all the traditional and quirky art forms abundant in Whanganui. Amongst these is the New Zealand Glassworks, a national centre for glass art in Whanganui.
With leading New Zealand artists work in the gallery, a viewing floor allows visitors to look down into the hot kiln studio and workshops as artists conduct workshops and work their magic from the furnaces.
Stretch your limbs a little further and head out to one or more of the numerous parks and reserves in the small city or cycle beside the Whanganui River out to the coast and Tasman Sea.
There is a huge choice of scenic and natural walks both in town and further out. Virginia Lake is heralded by many on TripAdvisor and loved by locals and visitors alike.
Or visit Bason Botanic Gardens with six different areas of garden from wetlands to orchid house and a homestead traditional English garden.
Across the river you’ll find a unique underground elevator and tower built in 1919 to help residents in the hillside suburb make their way to town and back.
A pedestrian tunnel leads to the elevator which is only one of two in the Southern Hemisphere and then you rattle and clatter your way to the most incredible views.
On a bright clear day (of which there are many in Whanganui) you can see Mount Ruapehu in the Central North Island and Mount Taranaki on the West Coast. You may even catch a glimpse of the top of the South Island as well.
Bushy Park is unique as an inland island sanctuary with an abundance of native birds and paths through natural forest.
The largest Northern Rata tree has to be seen to be believed with a girth of over 11 metres (36 feet) and aged between 500 and 1000 years. Quiet forest, beautiful bird song, breathe in deep the fresh air and relax.
Time out anyone? Whanganui is waiting for you. Come and say kia ora.
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