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Things To Do In Whanganui

Whanganui (Wanganui) was one of the first cities to be founded in New Zealand. Whanganui, meaning "big river" comes from the great river that flows through it. The main feature of this picturesque area is the magnificent Wanganui River. Historically this was an important transport route for both Maori and European settlers. Today the area of Whanga... Show More

Tourist Information About Whanganui

Top Attractions

Half Day, Grade 5 Rafting on the Rangitikei River

Half Day, Grade 5 Raf...

Our grade 5, white water rafting trip is often recognised as one of the best hal ......

Full Day Scenic Rafting on the Rangitikei River, Family Friendly

Full Day Scenic Rafti...

With over 30 Grade 2 (easy) rapids, amazing scenery and a riverside picnic lunch ......

Lodge to Lodge Luxury 2 Day Rafting Trip on the Rangitikei River

Lodge to Lodge Luxury...

Looking for a multi-day river trip with a touch of luxury? Explore a beautiful s ......

Mokai Canyon - 3 day river rafting holiday, family friendly

Mokai Canyon - 3 day ...

A 3 day river holiday, suitable for all the family. Tear the children away from ......

Canoe Safaris Whanganui River Journey

Activity LocationWhanganui

Experience the Whanganui River Journey with Canoe Safaris for an unforgettable wilderness adventure. Paddle Canadian-sty ...

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NZ $1145.00 Book Now

The Moa Goa: 2 Night E-Bike Package

Activity LocationWhanganui

Explore the Laughing Moa cycle trail, on a scenic e-bike ride. Relax and enjoy 2 nights of deluxe lodge accommodation a ...

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NZ $597.50 Book Now

Tourist Information About Whanganui

Whanganui (Wanganui) was one of the first cities to be founded in New Zealand. Whanganui, meaning "big river" comes from the great river that flows through it. The main feature of this picturesque area is the magnificent Wanganui River. Historically this was an important transport route for both Maori and European settlers. Today the area of Whanganui National Park is a fantastic tourist attraction for river adventures with jet boat trips and cruises by paddle steamer, kayaking, tramping, hunting and fishing taking you through stunning bush-clad hill country and long narrow gorges. Whanganui also features prominent heritage buildings such as the Whanganui Opera House. There is art and culture, dramatic west coast beaches and of course the stunning native bush.


Best Attractions and free things to do in Whanganui



Walk Around Virginia Lake

1. Walk Around Virginia Lake

There's much to do in Virginia Lake/Rotokawau to keep you occupied for a while. Hundreds of birds, statues, footbridges, native and exotic plants, pathways, water fountains, an aviary, and winter gardens! Choose from a variety of hikes around the lake and keep an eye out for pukeko, ducks, geese, swans, tui, and more!

 
Whanganui Regional Museum

2. Whanganui Regional Museum

This free museum houses remarkable Maori and European artifacts from Whanganui's heritage. See a replica of Whanganui's streets from hundreds of years ago, as well as enormous waka (canoes).

Outside of the major cities, the Whanganui Regional Museum is regarded as one of the best. With an ever-changing series of exhibitions and an international reputation for its Taonga Maori collection, you may dig into the lives, loves, and challenges of the people of the Whanganui region, past and present.

 
Walk Through the Durie Hill Tunnel

3. Walk Through the Durie Hill Tunnel

After crossing the river and the City Bridge, you'll find a tunnel leading to our famous subterranean public elevator, one of only two in the world, which was erected in 1919. You can ride it to the top of Durie Hill, where the Memorial Tower is located, for only $2. Climb to the top of the tower for free and enjoy spectacular views of the River City and the Tasman Sea.

Walking through this tunnel alone is worth a spot on this list of free activities in Whanganui. When traveling through the straight and white 213m (699ft) tunnel, it feels strange. You could find that you can't stop yourself from shouting for echoes!

Mt Ruapehu and Mt Taranaki can also be seen on a clear day. If you don't want to take the elevator back down, you can walk back down the 191 steps.

 
Kai Iwi Beach

4. Kai Iwi Beach

This beach, which is about a 20-minute drive from the holiday resort, is great for families. It features a nice creek where the younger kids can play safely. For the more daring, there's a great playground featuring a zip-wire. It's excellent for a family day out, with wood-fired BBQs and a shower block.

Kai Iwi Beach, often referred to as Whanganui's most picturesque beach, is a must-do. Take in the beauty of the craggy coastal cliffs and the gorgeous black sands. You can also go to the nearby Castlecliff Beach at low tide.

 
Whanganui River Road

5. Whanganui River Road

Along the Whanganui River Road, follow the famed Whanganui River upstream. The journey includes fossils, history, breathtaking views, lookouts, maraes, a waterfall, and access to Whanganui National Park.

The exquisite St Joseph's Church in Jerusalem, the Kawana Flour Mill, the Koriniti Marae, and the many overlooks where you can properly appreciate this majestic river are also worth a visit. Take a detour and trek the Atene Skyline Track for the more adventurous trampers. The round trip will take a couple hours, possibly more depending on how many viewpoints you visit.

 
Watch Glass Blowing Artists in Action

6. Watch Glass Blowing Artists in Action

In Whanganui, art is a big deal, but glass blowing is even bigger! At New Zealand Glassworks, previously Chronicle Glass Studio, see the glassblowers at work in the hot kilns. See how they do, and maybe even do what they do! The amazing art you can witness being created is showcased nearby where you can purchase them as gifts or decorations.

 
Westmere Lake

7. Westmere Lake

Westmere Lake is located in Whanganui's rural area. Enjoy the tranquility of this lovely lake while surrounded by livestock, muck, and excrement - which only occurs on rare occasions. Restawhile Lookout, Top Flats and Jeanie Lynas Reid Reserve, Matipo Park Lower Route, and Matipo Park via Top Flats are among the walks available here which you can spend a day exploring with friends and family.

 
The Ward Observatory

8. The Ward Observatory

Do you want to spend an evening stargazing? Ward Observatory, in Cooks Gardens, was built in 1901 and houses New Zealand's largest unaltered retractor telescope. Public viewings begin at 7:30 p.m. on Friday evenings, and all that is necessary is a little gold coin donation.

 
Bason Botanic Gardens

9. Bason Botanic Gardens

Stanley and Blanche gave the Wanganui City Council the debt-free 25-hectare farm land in 1966 for the construction of a botanical reserve. It has now grown into a regionally significant garden, with the capital works supported almost entirely through donations and bequests.

This garden surrounding the old farmhouse is a beautiful and timeless experience. The whole property acts as a magnificent memorial to those who were very special people with great love for their surroundings and had amazing generosity to enable future generations to experience this environment. It is a very relaxing activity and you are able to drive around and find the ideal place to stop and relax for as long as you want.

 
River Traders Market

10. River Traders Market

Every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., along the river at Moutua Quay, a historic Maori trading site and early European settlers' market, you'll discover everything from local arts and crafts to fresh local produce, vintage items, and delicious dining options. It's a local favorite and a terrific way for tourists to get a feel for the area and see why we enjoy the river so much.

From October to April, you can also watch the Waimarie Paddle Steamer embark from the Quay, which is a great way to take a step back in time. After that, take a stroll along the boardwalk with your ice cream, floater, or pasty.

 


Top attractions in Whanganui



The Moa Goa E-biking Adventure: Explore the stunning landscape of Whanganui on two wheels with a unique and exciting 2-night e-biking tour.

Scenic Rafting: Enjoy a full day of scenic rafting down the Whanganui River, taking in the breathtaking scenery and learning about the rich Maori cultural heritage along the way.

Rangitikei River Rafting: Get your adrenaline pumping with a 2-day rafting adventure down the Rangitikei River, tackling rapids and challenging obstacles while immersing yourself in nature.

Mokai Canyon Rafting: Experience the thrill of navigating through the narrow and challenging rapids of Mokai Canyon on a heart-pumping rafting excursion.

Grade 5 Rafting: For the more experienced rafters, test your skills on a grade 5 rafting adventure, tackling the most challenging rapids and experiencing the ultimate rush of adrenaline.



Top fun activities in Whanganui



1. Harmony With Horses: Immerse yourself in the beauty of Whanganui's natural landscape while horseback riding with the friendly and knowledgeable guides of Harmony With Horses.

2. Scenic Rafting: Explore the stunning scenery of the Whanganui River on a full-day scenic rafting excursion, discovering the rich cultural heritage and breathtaking vistas of this unique region.

3. Rangitikei River Rafting: Tackle the rapids of the Rangitikei River on a thrilling rafting adventure, lasting 1-2 days and offering a chance to immerse yourself in the beauty of New Zealand's wilderness.

4. Mokai Canyon Rafting: Navigate the narrow and challenging rapids of Mokai Canyon, a once-in-a-lifetime rafting experience for thrill-seekers and nature enthusiasts alike.

5. Grade 5 Rafting: Test your rafting skills on the most challenging rapids in Whanganui, with a grade 5 rafting adventure that will leave you with a sense of accomplishment and a rush of adrenaline.



Best day trips from Whanganui



1. Harmony With Horses: Spend a whole day connecting with nature and discovering the beautiful landscape of Whanganui on horseback with Harmony With Horses.

2. Scenic Rafting: Enjoy a full-day scenic rafting excursion down the Whanganui River, taking in the stunning scenery, rich cultural heritage and learning about the area's history.

3. Rangitikei River Rafting: Embark on a thrilling 1-2 day rafting adventure down the Rangitikei River, tackling rapids and immersing yourself in the beauty of the surrounding wilderness.

4. Mokai Canyon Rafting: Experience the rush of navigating through the narrow and challenging rapids of Mokai Canyon on a full-day rafting excursion.

5. Grade 5 Rafting: Challenge yourself with a grade 5 rafting adventure, tackling the toughest rapids in Whanganui and testing your rafting skills to the limit.



Best things to do near Whanganui



Tandem Skydive over Lake Taupo: Experience the thrill of a lifetime with a tandem skydive over the stunning Lake Taupo. Soar over the crystal clear waters and take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

Scenic Cruise to the famous Ngātoroirangi Māori Rock Carving: Take a scenic cruise to the famous Ngātoroirangi Māori Rock Carvings, located on the edge of Lake Taupo. Learn about the area’s rich cultural history and see the intricate carvings up close.

Mt Ruapehu Vista: Admire the awe-inspiring views of Mt Ruapehu, one of New Zealand's most active volcanoes, on a Mt Ruapehu Vista tour.

Sustainable sailing to the Maori Rock Carvings: Embark on a sustainable sailing experience to the Maori Rock Carvings. Enjoy the serene beauty of Lake Taupo while learning about the importance of preserving the natural environment.

Ernest Kemp Cruises: Cruise the waters of Lake Taupo on the Ernest Kemp, a historic steamship that offers a unique and unforgettable experience. Enjoy the stunning scenery and learn about the rich history of the area.

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