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Your guide to Taumarunui
All About Taumarunui
Once a typical farming village in the central part of the North Island, Taumarunui is now an adventure hub for enjoying the rugged landscape of New Zealand’s King Country. Here you’ll find rolling green hills and pockets of forest split by limestone karst features and mighty river valleys. The village lies on a bend of the Whanganui River, an area rich in Māori history. A number of iwi (tribes) have lived here for centuries as it sits on important waka (canoe travel routes) at the confluence of two rivers.
Canoeing is a big attraction for visitors today, and Taumarunui is a jumping-off point for the Whanganui River Journey, dubbed one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks,” even though it is a paddle. You can rent canoes or kayaks and equipment — and get a safety briefing — before setting off on the 90-mile route from Taumarunui to Pipiriki over five days. Or you can get a shuttle from Taumarunui to Whakahoro and paddle for three days through awe-inspiring gorges and virgin native forest in the heart of Whanganui National Park.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Taumarunui?
Taumarunui has a temperate climate, never getting too hot or too cold, but it can be quite rainy at any time of the year. In the winter months from June through August, you should prepare for it to feel cold and damp. The rainiest month is October, and the warmest, driest weather is during summer, from January through March.
In February, the Kotahitanga Festival brings fresh life to Taumarunui. Kotahitanga means unity, and this free event opens with a Māori karakia (welcome). Then the fun begins with a vast range of market stalls, food, and live music. As the summer draws to a close in March, there’s a country music festival at the Taumarunui Domain featuring local and national acts.
What are the top things to do in Taumarunui?
Tongariro National Park
Forty minutes southeast of Taumarunui is the 307-square-mile Tongariro National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The park is home to three active volcanoes that each offer breathtaking views from the top; unbelievably blue lakes where you can kayak and paddleboard; and rivers with grade-three rapids for whitewater rafting. Numerous hiking trails thread through the park, offering paths of varying skill and accessibility levels, whether you’re here for a 15-minute stroll or for days-long adventures.
River fun is not just about canoeing and kayaking in Taumarunui. There’s no effort required but plenty of adrenalin as you speed up the Whanganui River in a custom-built jet boat. Hold on tightly and enjoy the pristine wilderness of the national park, with its giant tree ferns and evergreens. For a more hands-on adventure, you can try jet skiing.
Consider taking this lovely local short walk in Taumarunui. It’s well signposted from Marsack Road and takes around 40 minutes each way. You can listen to the melodious call of the tui and observe the piwakawaka hopping around the path, looking for insects. From the top of the Sunshine Track, there are outstanding views of the Whanganui River Valley with magnificent rimu trees and podocarp forest.