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Your guide to Whanganui
All About Whanganui
The town of Whanganui, located within the Manawatū-Whanganui region on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island, is named after the longest navigable river in New Zealand. The river runs through the town before it lets out into the Pacific Ocean, and visitors often travel along the Whanganui Journey, a 90-mile paddle route down the river through deep canyons and mostly calm waters.
The rolling green hills and forests that surround the city offer plenty of hiking trails, from leisurely ambles to challenging climbs. Whanganui is also the end point of the Ngā Ara Tūhono, or the Mountains to Sea trail. This mountain bike route is a five-day ride that starts from Tongariro National Park.
Whanganui’s streets offer a combination of heritage architecture and colorful street art. Experience the vibe of the city through the weekly River Traders Market, which takes place on a historic Māori trading site and is the perfect spot to pick up vintage pieces, crafts, and plants. Stop at the farmers’ booths to purchase organic fruits and vegetables, smoothies, and snacks.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Whanganui?
Thanks to its temperate climate, a visit to Whanganui is pleasant in any season. The summer months of December through March offer the warmest weather and the most sunshine. Writers and bookworms plan their Whanganui accommodation for mid-February, when the Whanganui Literary Festival occurs. The 10-day event gives local authors and big-name writers a chance to talk about their latest works. In March, La Fiesta is a women’s festival with workshops, art, music, and lectures. During winter, which runs from June to August, expect cold and rainy weather. Although the temperature rarely reaches freezing, you should still pack layers and waterproof outerwear.
What are the top things to do in Whanganui?
The Durie Hill Elevator
New Zealand’s only public underground elevator is accessed by a long pedestrian tunnel, and you’ll be welcomed aboard by an operator. This historic elevator takes you up 216 feet to the top of the hill, saving you from walking up 355 steps. From the lookout deck, you can take in views of the town. While you’re here, you can visit the adjacent War Memorial Tower.
New Zealand Glassworks - Te Whare Tūhua O Te Ao
Housed in the local newspaper’s former printworks, New Zealand Glassworks-Te Whare Tūhua O Te Ao is a celebration of New Zealand’s art glass heritage. Discover the history of glass art through the interactive displays and browse local artists’ pieces at the center’s exhibition. You can also attend glass-blowing workshops and demonstrations before choosing a souvenir from the gift shop.
Tongariro National Park
An hour and a half northeast of Whanganui is New Zealand’s first national park, the 307-square-mile Tongariro National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to three active volcanoes with breathtaking views from the top, unbelievably blue lakes where you can kayak, and rivers with grade three rapids for whitewater rafting. Numerous hiking trails line the park, offering paths of varying skill and accessibility levels, whether you’re here for a 15-minute stroll or for four-to-six-day adventures.