Wanganui  (also spelt Whanganui) is a city on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand. It lies at the mouth of the Whanganui River, which flows from Mount Tongariro via the stunning Whanganui National Park. The district has a population of approx. 44,000.
The name Wanganui comes from the Maori words whanga, for a bay or harbour, and nui meaning big or large. However, when the early colonists heard the placename said in the local Maori dialect with a softly spoken "wh" which sounded more like a "w" sound than the standard pronunication of wh in Maori (like English "f"), they spelled the placename as Wanganui rather than Whanganui.
Founded in 1840 and originally named Petre, until 1852; Wanganui is one of the oldest European settlements in New Zealand.
Tourist and visitor information is available from:
- I-Site (Wanganui Visitor Centre), ☎ +64 6 349 0508 ([email protected], fax: +64 6 349 0509), . Open 7 days. For accommodation, travel and transport information and bookings.
Wanganui is between Palmerston North and New Plymouth, at the junction of State Highway 4 (SH4) with State Highway 3 (SH3). It is a two and a half hour drive from Wellington, using State Highways 1 and 3 (SH1 and SH3) and a six hour drive from Auckland, via Hamilton, using State Highways 1 and 4 (SH1 and SH4).
There are daily coach services from Wellington, New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Auckland.
- InterCity, Bus Stop outside travel centre, 156 Ridgeway St.
Wanganui Airport has flights from Auckland.
The nearest railway station with a passenger service is at Marton (40 km away).
A mixture of walking and taking buses is generally the most cost-effective way to get around. Buses generally depart every hour from Maria Place Extension.
There are also taxis.
- River City Taxis, ☎ +64 6 345 3333 (toll free: 0800 345 3333).
- Wanganui in Bloom. from December to March there are hundreds of hanging flower baskets lining the streets of central Wanganui.
- Whanganui Regional Museum. , an extensive collection of natural and human artifacts with a strong regional emphasis.
- Sarjeant Gallery, . well known for its large collection of British, European and NZ art.
- Bason Botanic Gardens, . has both indoor and outdoor gardens with some bush walks.
- Whanganui Riverboat Centre Museum, . 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 that was founded in 1854, which has a beautiful campus with some attractive old brick buildings. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Waimarie, . 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.
- 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.
- Red Eye Cafe, Guyton Street. 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.
- Kebabholik. a rather good Turkish fast food joint next to the main street Subway.
- Jabee Kebabs. just across the road from the subway and has really good kebabs as well.
- Thistles. a small but well-stocked sweet shop with extensive range, and features homemade sweets as well as bulk candy.
- Red Lion Cafe and Bar/Pub, (along the waterfront.). A nice atmosphere with pool tables and big screen TV's to watch the rugby.
- Stellar, (is at the bottom of the town on the main street). does good food early evening and then a spot for the young ones later on after 11pm Fri/Sat
- 151 on London (Motel 151 on London), 151 London Street, Wanganui (At the north end of town on State Highway 3), ☎ +64 6 345 8668 ([email protected]), . 26 Suites including Studios and 4 Family Apartments.
- 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 ([email protected], fax: +64 6 343 3056), . A Bed and Breakfast style Travelers Lodge on the banks of the Whanaganui River. Category Winner, 2008 Wanganui Business Awards. From $65.
- Aotea Motor Lodge Luxury Wanganui Accommodation (Wanganui Accommodation), 390 Victoria Avenue, ☎ +64 6 345 0303 ([email protected]), . Wanganui Accommodation, Luxury Motor Lodge, Motor Lodge Wanganui New Zealand * Wanganui Accommodation $160-$200.
- Arles (Arles Bed & Breakfast & Self-Contained Apartment), 50 Riverbank Road, State Highway 4, Wanganui East, ☎ +64 6 343 6557 or Mobile 021 257 8257 ([email protected], fax: +64 6 343 6557).
- Astral Motel and Apartments, 45 Somme Parade, ☎ +64 6 347 9063 (toll free: Reservations (NZ only) 0800 509 063, [email protected]).
- Avro Motel and Caravan Park, 36 Alma Road, Gonville, ☎ +64 6 345 5279 ([email protected], fax: +64 6 345 2104), .
- B-K’s Magnolia Motor Lodge, 240 St Hill Street, ☎ +64 6 348 0020 (toll free: Reservations (NZ only) 0800 166 835, [email protected]), .
- Burwood Manor Motel, 63-65 Dublin Street, ☎ +64 6 345 2180 (toll free: Reservations (NZ only) 0800 20 20 63, [email protected], fax: +64 6 345 8711), .
- Castlecliff Holiday Park, 1A Rangiora Street, Castlecliff, ☎ +64 6 344 2227 (toll free: Reservations (NZ only) 0800 254 947, [email protected]), .
- Coachmans Lodge Motel, 30 Liffiton Street, (toll free: 0508 262 246, [email protected], fax: +64 6 345 2227), .
- Cooks Gardens Motor Lodge, 170 Guyton Street, ☎ +64 6 345 6003 (toll free: Reservations (NZ only) 0800 800 843, [email protected]), . Qualmark rated 4+ star accommodation in the heard of Wanganui. 15 ground floor accessible units, wireless internet, spa bath units, kitchen facilities.
- Fiesta Court Motel, 56 Heads Road, ☎ +64 6 345 8209 (toll free: Reservations (NZ only) 0800 22 25 25, [email protected], fax: +64 6 345 6479).
- Four Seasons Motel (95 Putiki Drive), ☎ +64 6 345 0944 (toll free: Reservations (NZ only) 0800 368 773, [email protected]), .
- Gateway Motor Lodge, Cnr Southern Motorway and Heads Road, ☎ +64 6 345 8164 (toll free: Reservations (NZ only) 0800 37 23 24, [email protected]).
- The Grand Hotel, Cnr Guyton and St Hill Streets, ☎ +64 6 345 0955 ([email protected], fax: +64 6 345 0953).
- Kings Court Motel, 58-60 Plymouth Street, PO Box 4029, Wanganui (within 200 metres of the city centre), ☎ +64 6 345 8586 (toll free: Reservations (NZ only) 0800 221 222, fax: +64 6 345 0222), . checkin: 1 PM; checkout: 10 AM. 12 ground floor accessible units (8 x studio, 4 x 1-bedroom) units), all with kitchen facilities, Wireless or Dial-up Internet. Qualmark rated 3 Star Plus. A member of Host Accommodation Group. Motel is pet free and units are smoke free.
- Kingsgate Hotel The Avenue (The Avenue Hotel), 379 Victoria Avenue, PO Box 7000, Wanganui, ☎ +64-6-349 0044 ([email protected], fax: +64-6-345 3250), .
- Ocean Heights Motel, 40 Rangiora Street, Castlecliff, ☎ +64 6 344 4144 ([email protected]).
- The Pepper Tree Bed and Breakfast, 19 Young Street, Wanganui East, ☎ +64 6 343 9933 ([email protected]), .
- Quality Inn Collegiate Hotel, 122 Liverpool Street, ☎ +64 6 345 8309 (toll free: Reservations (NZ only) 0800 942 943, [email protected], fax: +64 6 345 6204), . $125-$150 (2 persons).
- Raceway Motel, Cnr Purnell Street & Hurworth Place, ☎ +64 6 345 8224 ([email protected], fax: +64 6 345 8223), .
- Riverside Motel, 30 Somme Parade, ☎ +64 6 345 2448 (toll free: Reservations (NZ only) 0800 853 3333, [email protected]), .
- Riverview Motel, 14 Somme Parade, ☎ +64 6 345 2888 (toll free: Reservations (NZ only) 0800 102 001, [email protected]).
- 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), ☎ +64 6 342 5501, . 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.
- Rutland Arms Inn (Rutland Arms Inn & Restaurant), 48-52 Ridgway Street, ☎ +64 6 347 7677 (toll free: Reservations (NZ only) 0800 788 5263 (0800 RUTLAND), [email protected]), .
- Siena Motor Lodge, 335 Victoria Avenue, PO Box 7126 Mid Avenue, Wanganui 4541, ☎ +64 6 345 9009 (toll free: Reservations (NZ only) 0800 88 88 02, [email protected], fax: +64 6 345 9935), .
- Solvere Bed & Breakfast, 33b Ridgway Street, ☎ +64 6 345 5831 mobile 021 545 184 ([email protected]), .
- Sports Lodge Motel, 3 Surrey Road, Springvale, ☎ +64 6 344 6351 (toll free: Reservations (NZ only) 0800 666 008, [email protected]), .
- Tamara Lodge (Tamara Backpackers Lodge), 24 Somme Parade, Wanganui, ☎ +64 6 347 6300 ([email protected]), . An Edwardian villa on the banks of the Whanaganui River. $45 Single Room. From $25 shared rooms.
- Wanganui Motor Lodge, 14 Alma Road, Gonville, ☎ +64 6 345 4742 (toll free: Reservations (NZ only) 0800 800 544, [email protected], fax: +64 6 345 0235).
- Whanganui River Top 10 Holiday Park (Wanganui River Top 10 Holiday Park), 460 Somme Parade, Aramoho, ☎ +64 6 343 8402 (toll free: Reservations (NZ only) 0800 272 664, [email protected]), .
- Bushy Park Homestead, 791 Rangitatau East Road (turn inland at Kai Iwi on Rangitatau East Rd), ☎ 64 6 342 9879 ([email protected]), . checkin: noon; checkout: 10AM. Historic homestead set in a lowland rainforest offering both B&B and backpacker-style accommodation. Very quiet location. Fully licensed cafe and evening meals by prior arrangement. Double B&B $125-155.
- La Bella B&B (La Bella Bed and Breakfast), 7 Somme Parade (5 mintues walk along river front from iSite Info Centre), ☎ 06 3458787, . checkin: 2:30pm. Historic 19th century mansion overlooking the Whanganui river. River views from every window and three verandas. Lavishly furnished with antiques, paintings and artefacts from all over the world. $120-$140.
- Auchendean South B&B, West Way, Wanganui (In Durie Hill suburb. Telephone for directions), ☎ 063456466, . Traditional NZ Homestay. Share our small house and garden. Queen sized double bed, large lounge and breakfast area. Home-made bread, youghurt, jams. Dinner and breakfast by arrangement.