Whanganui is a place steeped in history, art and culture, surrounded by a beautiful natural landscape. Don’t be surprised to find an immediate sense of connection, an unexpected little slice of heaven, and real New Zealand authenticity. The following itinerary can be done in a day, or taken more leisurely over two days - spending the first day discovering the town and then explore the river road on the second day.
Morning/ Day 1 - City Heritage Trail
Discover the stories of one of New Zealand most interesting and distinctive places to visit. Whanganui offers many opportunities to engage with New Zealand's fascinating past.
View a detailed PDF Brochure "Whanganui Self-Guided City Tour"
Some selected highlights:
- Ride Whanganui's historic Durie Hill Elevator. Built in 1919, it is one of only two earth-bound elevators in the world.
- See ‘Mable’, the Number 12 Tram.
- Climb the Memorial Tower on Durie Hill. Built from fossilised shell rock it offers sweeping views of the city, inland volcanic mountains and the Tasman Sea.
- Explore the Whanganui Regional Museum, recognised for its outstanding collection of Maori taonga (treasures) and Lindauer portraits of Maori people in the late 1800s.
- Visit the Whanganui River Boat Centre
- Cruise on the PS Waimarie, New Zealand's only coal fired paddle steamer
- Visit the venues and attractions in Queen’s Park to learn more about Whanganui’s heritage and culture.
Afternoon/ Day 2 - A River Road Round Trip
A visit to the Whanganui River and the road which winds beside it into the Whanganui National Park is a special and authentic journey for visitors. This intimate and scenic 64km road leads to the Whanganui National Park, and enables travellers to visit small isolated river communities and experience a pace of life which is unique in its contrast to much of the rest of the country.
There are stunning views of the river along much of the road’s length and of particular interest are the many beautifully reserved marae (gathering places) which are usually visible from the road.
View a detailed PDF Brochure "Whanganui River Road"
Some selected highlights:
- Aramoana Viewpoint
A popular stop, the Aramoana viewpoint showcases views of the river valley, Pungarehu and Mount Ruapehu.
- Atene skyline walk
A 1-2 hour scenic walk: Part of the Whanganui National Park, the Atene skyline track rises to a height of 523m above sea-level and offers views over the region and an unusual land feature called a “meander”, where the river once flowed in a near circle and now has cut through to create a shortcut to the sea.
Matahiwi is the hub of a small farming community. In 1923, a building was transported by riverboat from Parinui, 46km upriver, to Matahiwi, and was used as the local school for many years. Today it is the local café and gallery open during the summer.
- Hiruharama (Jerusalem)
Hiruharama is home to a century old catholic church and convent built in the 1890s. The church features a beautifully carved alter of Maori design and kowhaiwhai panels adorn the walls. Once the home of an orphanage, the convent today hosts retreats and offers accommodation, and the rosary way garden offers peace and serenity.
- Omorehu waterfall
The waterfall offers a great photo opportunity and is an example of the many waterfalls that fall into the Whanganui River.
There's a world of discovery to be made in our be beautiful region. If you haven't booked yet, choose from our wide variety of accommodation options here.
Pipiriki is the gateway to the upper Whanganui River and the Whanganui National Park. Many canoe and jet boat trips start and finish here. The Department of Conservation has a shelter at Pipiriki with toilets, water and a camping area, and a storyboard display of the history and cultural significance of the Whanganui River.