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Wanganui

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The city of Wanganui [1] is on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand. It is on the Whanganui River, which flows from Mount Tongariro via the stunning Whanganui National Park. The district has a population of approx. 44,000.

Founded in 1840, Wanganui is one of the oldest European settlements in New Zealand, and was named Petre until 1852.

Get in

By car

Wanganui is a two and a half hour drive from Wellington, and a six hour drive from Auckland using State Highway 4 (SH4).

By bus

There are daily coach services from Wellington, Palmerston North and Auckland.

By plane

Wanganui Airport handles domestic flights from Auckland and Wellington.

By train

Marton (40 km) is the nearest railway station.

Get around

A mixture of walking and taking buses is generally the most cost-effective way to get around Wanganui. Buses generally depart every hour from Maria Place Extension.

See

  • Wanganui in Bloom, from December to March there are hundreds of hanging flower baskets lining the streets of central Wanganui.
  • Whanganui Regional Museum [2], an extensive collection of natural and human artifacts with a strong regional emphasis
  • Sarjeant Gallery [3], well known for its large collection of British, European and NZ art.
  • Bason Botanic Gardens [4] has both indoor and outdoor gardens with some bush walks.
  • Whanganui Riverboat Centre Museum[5] Contains fascinating displays of river-related artefacts and photographs of the riverboat era.

Various art exhibitions are held around Wanganui's city centre at almost all times. Much of it is student work from UCOL, and the best exhibitions usually take place in the acclaimed Wanganui School of Design, which has a very nice tight-knit staff that can hold very interesting conversations. However, don't ask Tanya Roberson about dogs or memes, you'll be there for hours.

Wanganui Collegiate School is a private school which has a beautiful campus with some attractive old brick buildings. Founded in 1854, you cannot drive through the grounds during school hours as the school's main thoroughfare - the only one wide enough for cars - is used heavily throughout the day.

Do

  • Durie Hill Elevator, across from the City Bridge. Accessed by the Durie Hill pedestrian tunnel, it is the only underground elevator in New Zealand and one of only two in the world. It has two viewpoints.
  • The Whanganui River is around 300 km long. It is the longest navigable river and the second longest river in the North Island. There are a number of operators who offer canoeing, rafting and jetboat trips. The Mangapurua stream (tributary to the Whanganui) is bridged by the famous Bridge to Nowhere. This was built to provide access to settlers establishing farms in the Mangapurua Valley. The settlements no longer exist but the bridge remains as an eloquent reminder. It can be reached from the Mangapurua Landing on the Whanganui which is a 1.5 hour walk round trip. The landing can be reached by drive to Pipiriki then a jet boat ride.
  • Waimarie [6], take a two-hour cruise up the river on NZ's only coal-fired historic paddle steamer.
  • Heritage Walks, discover the history of one of NZ's oldest European settlements.

Buy

Trafalgar Square shopping centre on Taupo Quay was opened in 1989 with New Zealand's largest K-Mart store. K-Mart has since been replaced by The Warehouse, which shares the complex with a range of other shops including Wendy's. The shake 'n dogs are not what they used to be.

Phaedra is a small but well-stocked gothic apparel store near the Red Eye Cafe. The staff are friendly and the store smells pleasingly of incense.

Stardust Creations is a rather artsy-fartsy new age store with a confused demographic, but it sells some very beautiful unique hand-made necklaces between $5 and $50 that, while bereft of mineral value, are generally much prettier and more interesting than diamonds. Perfect for a bohemian friend.

Eat

The Red Eye Cafe on Guyton Street is right up there with the best cafes in Wellington and Auckland.

Ceramic, a jazz bar/restaurant on the main street, has nice food and personable staff.

Bollywood Star is the best Indian restaurant in the Manawatu-Whanganui region. Their butter chicken and chicken pakoras are not to be missed, nor is their delicious mango lassi. A plasma TV plays somewhat enjoyable Bollywood films non-stop and the waiting staff are very personable.

Kebabholik is a rather good Turkish fast food joint next to the main street Subway. Jabee Kebabs is just across the road from the subway and has really good kebabs as well.

Thistles is a small but well-stocked sweet shop with extensive range, and features homemade sweets as well as bulk candy.

Drink

Red Lion Cafe and Bar/Pub along the waterfront. A nice atmosphere with pool tables and big screen TV's to watch the rugby

Stella is at the bottom of the town on the main street and does good food early evening and then a spot for the young ones later on after 11pm Fri/Sat

Sleep

  • Anndion Lodge (Anndion Lodge, Apartments and Conference Centre), 143 ANZAC Parade, Wanganui East (On SH 4, 5 minutes drive from CBD.), +64 6 343 3593 (), [7]. A Bed and Breakfast style Travelers Lodge on the banks of the Whanaganui River. Category Winner, 2008 Wanganui Business Awards. From $65.
  • Riverwoods luxury bed and breakfast (Riverwoods luxury bed and breakfast), 234-237 Kaiwhaiki Rd Wanganui (Head north out of Wanganui along State Highway Four, towards Upokongaro Village. Kaiwhaiki Road is the first left after Upokongaro Village, approx 10 minutes (11km), from the city limits. Riverwoods is approx 2.3km from the turn-off. The Whanganui River will be on your left-hand side), 06 342 5501, [8]. checkin: from 9AM; checkout: midday. Riverwoods is a luxurious self contained villa located a short drive from historic Wanganui. Nestled on the banks of the Whanganui River, Riverwoods has seclusion and peace, or excitement and action. 1 guest $140pn to five guests $370pn.
  • Tamara Lodge (Tamara Backpackers Lodge), 24 Somme Parade, Wanganui, +64 6 347 6300 (), [9]. An Edwardian villa on the banks of the Whanaganui River. $45 Single Room. From $25 shared rooms.

Get out




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