The North Island’s Whanganui region is boasting natural beauty, man-made beauty and a range of enjoyable activities and experiences for visitors to the area to enjoy. Here we shed some light on the best things tos ee and do in Whanganui and its surrounding regions with our top 10 picks. Showcasing the best of the region, we’ll be highlighting activities and experiences that will keep the average traveller entertained.
See below our top 10 things to do in Whanganui and its surrounds.
10. Explore Whanganui Regional Museum
Location: Queens Park Memorial, Watt Street, Whanganui
Opening hours: 10am – 4:30pm everyday except Good Friday & Christmas Day
With its famed Taonga Maori Collection, the Whanganui Regional Museum houses an incredible selection of artefacts and antiques that shed light on the region’s rich history and Maori culture. The exhibition programme is constantly changing with new and travelling exhibits being erected. Exhibits such as House of Bones; an exhibition showcasing skulls, skeletons and bones from the Museum’s own collections, and Something Old, Something New; displaying new acquisitions the Museum received in 2015.
With its famed Taonga Maori Collection, the Whanganui Regional Museum houses an incredible selection of artefacts and antiques that shed light on the region’s rich history and Maori culture.
The Museum is also home to various permanent exhibitions that can be viewed year round. These exhibits display some of the most exclusive and unique taonga and treasures from New Zealand and around the world. Children are well catered for at the museum, with the shop being a big selling point after the museum has been explored. There are also educational programs that run from within the museum to teach students about the region’s history and the exhibits on display.
9. Wander around Paloma Gardens
Location: Pohutukawa Lane, Fordell, Whanganui
Named a ‘Garden of National Significance’ in New Zealand for over 6 years, Paloma Gardens grows an exotic range of plants sourced from around the world. Separated into around 10 different zones, you’ll be able to wander through gardens resembling those found in Asia, Africa and the Americas. The different zones include the Desert House, the Palm Garden, the Garden of Death and the Bamboo Forests. Each as lovely to look at as the next, Paloma is the perfect picnic location year round.
Separated into around 10 different zones, you’ll be able to wander through gardens resembling those found in Asia, Africa and the Americas.
Every season welcomes a new beautiful plant, so be prepared to see something different each time you visit. There are also various sculptures scattered throughout the gardens that add to the gorgeous landscape. The gardens are also common grounds for celebrations such as weddings, mostly in the aptly named Wedding Lawn. If you’ve enjoyed the gardens to much and don’t want to leave, you can spend the night at one of the various accommodation options including the Red House, a romantic bed and breakfast and the Woolstead for larger groups.
8. See a show at Royal Opera House Wanganui
Location: 69 Hill Street, Whanganui
Put on your best attire and get ready for an evening at the Opera House, the Royal Wanganui Opera House that is. Since 1899, this Whanganui gem has played one of the most pivotal roles in the region’s arts and cultural scene. Gaining national and international recognition for its architectural beauty and incredible acoustics, attending a show or performance at the Royal Wanganui Opera House is a must for anyone visiting the region.
The Opera House hosts a large selection of performances, shows and productions throughout the year on a both local, national and international scale.
The Opera House hosts a large selection of performances, shows and productions throughout the year on a both local, national and international scale. Visit the Wanganui Opera House’s website to view the full schedule for upcoming months and to book a seat at one of the visiting shows.
Dependant on show – check website for more information
7. Visit Sarjeant Gallery
Location: 38 Taupo Quay, Whanganui
Opening hours: 10:30am – 4:30pm daily
In a temporary location until redevelopments and restrengthening are complete in 2019, the Sarjeant Gallery maintains its status as a must-see Whanganui destination. Housing a range of thought provoking and enjoyable exhibits throughout the year, every few months the gallery is refreshed with a new travelling display. Previous exhibits have included Seeing Doubles; a collection of work by artist Joan Grehan, and Handle With Care; a display to introduce visitors to the diverse collection in the gallery with a range of 3D objects.
Housing a range of thought provoking and enjoyable exhibits throughout the year, every few months the gallery is refreshed with a new travelling display.
There are also permanent collections in the gallery consisting of over 8000 individual artworks. Showcasing art from as far back as the 16th Century through to the 21st Century. Visitors can expect to be amazed by the incredible collections and exhibits on display and can easily lose hours wandering around the gallery.
6. Swim at Kai Iwi Beach
Location: Kai Iwi Beach, Moana Parade, Whanganui
A perfect summer destination, Kai Iwi Beach provides visitors with a great time. The waters are patrolled during the summer months, making it an ideal and safe swimming environment for travellers, especially those with kids or who aren’t confident swimmers. While at the beach you can also try your hand at fishing off the shore, beach combing or just simply sitting back and enjoying the beautiful views and equally beautiful weather.
While at the beach you can also try your hand at fishing off the shore, beach combing or just simply sitting back and enjoying the beautiful views and equally beautiful weather.
There are a range of facilities at the beach including a playground for the young ones to enjoy, a toilet block, wood-burning BBQs and in close proximity to camping grounds. If you’re visiting the Whanganui region in the cooler months, visiting the beach is still worthwhile.
5. Explore Whanganui National Park
Location: Parinui, NZ
Home to the country’s longest navigable waterway, Whanganui River, Whanganui National Park has a characteristic landscape that is a dream to explore. A haven for adventurers and wildlife lovers, the National Park is home to a large variety of birds including kereru; native pigeon, piwakawaka; fantail, and riroriro; grey warbler, to name a few. If water sports are your thing, the Whanganui River provides an ample amount of activities for you to enjoy as the river winds through the National park.
Home to the country’s longest navigable waterway, Whanganui River, Whanganui National Park has a characteristic landscape that is a dream to explore.
Walkers, get excited, as one of the most popular walks in the National Park; The Matemateaonga Track is one to conquer. Taking around three to four days to complete, the track begins at Whakahoro and finishes up at the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’. If you’re after a shorter more accessible one-day walk, the 1.5 hour river to ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ walk is a popular choice as is the Atene Skyline Track located further south in the Park.
4. Visit NZ’s only glass school
Location: 2 Rutland Street, Whanganui
Opening hours: Summer: Mon-Friday 9am – 5pm, Sat/Sun 10am – 4pm; Winter: Mond-Fri 9am – 5pm, Sat 10am – 3pm
Whanganui houses the only glass school in the country, and Chronicle Glass Studio’s reputation surely precedes them. From the middle of September, visitors to the region have the chance to watch glass artists Katie Brown and Lyndsay Patterson do what they do best. With an elevated viewing platform for guests, you can watch intricate pieces be created and even purchase some of the work on display.
Chronicle Glass Studio is so well known and respected that they were given the task of creating all of the glassware needed for the iconic The Hobbit Trilogy.
Chronicle Glass Studio is so well known and respected that they were given the task of creating all of the glassware needed for the iconic The Hobbit Trilogy. From inkwells to goblets and wine bottles, all glassware you see in the movie was created right here in this Whanganui studio.
3. Cruise in the PS Waimarie
Location: Waimarie Centre, 1a Taupo Quay, Whanganui
Opening hours: October to April Tues-Sun 10am – 2pm, Fri 4pm – 5:30pm as well
Travel back in time to how travel used to be with the PS (Paddle Steamer) Waimarie along the Whanganui River. One of the most authentic ways to travel along this iconic river way, the PS Waimarie was resurrected from the bottom of the Whanganui River after almost 50 years. After being restored to her former glory, the ship was relaunched and available to the public to ride in 2000.
One of the most authentic ways to travel along this iconic river way, the PS Waimarie was resurrected from the bottom of the Whanganui River after almost 50 years.
It is the country’s only authentic coal-fired paddle steamer currently in operation, making this a unique and exciting opportunity unlike any other. A must-see for both locals and tourists alike, cruising along the Whanganui River aboard this iconic vessel is an experience that can’t be missed. There are various cruises available including day time cruises, Firday night cruises with food, drinks and live music, themed cruises and the chance to book a private cruise for a party or function.
2. Canoe Whanganui River
Location: Whanganui National Park
Canoeing or kayaking Whanganui River is a popular activity for visitors to the area as well as locals. With the option of taking it easy or amping up the pace with a more intense paddle, the Whanganui River is the perfect playground for adventurous folk. You can choose to enjoy a short, relaxing canoe/kayak with 1 or 2 hour trips available up to 3 to 5 hours or full day paddles. You’re also given the chance to hire the equipment and guide yourself or embark on the adventure with an experienced and local guide who knows the river like the back of their hand.
There are various tour operators that conduct canoeing and kayaking tours as well as equipment hire in the region. If you’re chasing an enjoyable adventure to combines both beautiful scenery at your chosen level of adventure, then this is the top activity for you.
1. Walk across the Bridge to Nowhere
Location: Whanganui National Park
Nestled in the luscious Whanganui National Park, the Bridge to Nowhere is exactly as the name suggests; a bridge going nowhere. There are various ways to experience the Bridge to Nowhere but walking to, over and from it is by far one of the best choices. The Bridge of Nowhere Walk stretches over 3 kilometres taking around 1 hour 30 to complete. Considered an easy level track, it departs Mangapurua Landing on the River and follows the Mangapurua Stream until it reaches the bridge.
The bridge is somewhat of an icon in the region and a popular destination for tourists.
The bridge is somewhat of an icon in the region and a popular destination for tourists. Since its creation in the 1930s, the bridge has been rarely used, apart from visiting tourists. Providing beautiful views over the water and of the surrounding parklands, the Bridge to Nowhere is a definite must-see when in the region.
In addition, if you’re looking for all the top things to see and do in and around New Zealand including activities, attractions and more, be sure to check out our main region section to browse and book online!