Whanganui, also referred to as Wanganui, is defined by its culture, history, and art. Located on the west coast of the North Island, Whanganui is surrounded by various mountains and immense natural beauty. It also claims the honor of being one of the oldest towns in New Zealand. The term Whanganui signifies ‘big bay’ or ‘big harbour,‘ which is related to the beautiful Whanganui River. This city is located beside this historic Whanganui River. This river is the longest navigable river in New Zealand and it used to be known as the Rhine of New Zealand. A search through history while enjoying the beauty of nature, visitors have a lot to discover during their visit to Wanganui.
Read on to find out the things you can do in Wanganui, NZ:
1. A visit to the Whanganui Regional Museum
The Whanganui Regional Museum is one of the best places to learn about the history of this ancient town. The museum was established with the private collection of local jeweler Samuel Drew in the year 1895. Today, you get to see the social history of Whanganui, the history of the Maori era, along with world culture in this museum. The museum is located in Queen’s Park Memorial of Watt Street. This building was constructed in the year 1928. After that, the building had to go through the technicalities of earthquake strengthening, refurbishment, and reconstruction from time to time.
Whanganui Regional Museum
Address: 62 Ridgway St, Whanganui, 4500, New Zealand
Website: Whanganui Regional Museum
2. An opera show at Royal Opera House Wanganui
Opera is an integral part of New Zealand lifestyle. If you want a native opera experience, then you must attend a concert in the Royal Opera House of Wanganui. Historic and majestic - these two words describe the Royal Opera House of Wanganui perfectly. The architecture of this building is another attraction, like its excellent acoustics. Apart from the opera shows, the Royal Opera House also hosts fashion shows and dance programs.
Royal Opera House Wanganui
Address: 69 St Hill St, Whanganui, 4501, New Zealand
Website: Royal Opera House Wanganui
3. Swimming or fishing at Kai Iwi Beach
If you are craving the taste of the sea during your vacation to Wanganui, head on to the Kai Iwi Beach. Located west from the Wanganui town, the Kai Iwi Beach is best for a family holiday. This black-sand beach offers lots of fun activities for the kids. The beach is safe enough for swimming, even for the novice swimmers. If you are not in the mood to take a swim, just enjoy the sun or take a long walk. You can also try out fishing at Kai Iwi Beach.
The beach will not disappoint the adventure lovers. Activities like a flying fox and surfing can be enjoyed over the various stems of the beach. After a full day of adventures in this beach, don’t miss the sunset over of the Tasman Sea.
Kai Iwi Beach
Website: Visit Wanganui
4. Discovering New Zealand Glassworks: the only glass school of New Zealand
If you are an art enthusiast, then you must head on to New Zealand Glassworks. New Zealand Glassworks is a school for practicing glass art. You can take a tour through this center and experience the amazing creation of glass arts first-hand. Originally this center was created to encourage the local glass artists. During your visit, you can also witness the artists busy in creating amazing art pieces with the glass.
New Zealand Glassworks
Address: 2 Rutland St, Whanganui, 4500, New Zealand
Website: New Zealand Glassworks
5. Sarjeant Gallery for the local art
It's Arts Review pickup day! Come in to Sarjeant on the Quay today from 10:30am - 4:30pm to collect your artworkPosted by Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare O Rehua Whanganui on Monday, 15 May 2017
Apart from the glass art, if you want to get a glimpse of local art in detail, head towards the Sarjeant Gallery. Although the original building needs restoration to meet the earthquake strengthening, all the collections can be seen in a house located in Quay. The original building of the Queens Park was constructed in the year 1919. The original project was funded by a local farmer Henry Sarjeant. Today, the gallery has more than 8,300 artworks, created by the eminent artists of New Zealand.
Address: 38 Taupo Quay, Whanganui, 4500, New Zealand
Website: Sarjeant Gallery
6. Bason Botanic Gardens: where art meets nature
Bason Botanic Gardens is a perfect place to enjoy the combination of nature and art. The garden features an extensive orchid collection, flowers like roses, daffodils, camellias, Norfolk Island Pine, magnolias and a Mediterranean garden. You can spend a full day admiring the nature or opt for an open-air BBQ at this garden. There are various trails inside this extensive garden to take a leisurely walk or to go for a short hike.
Bason Botanic Gardens
Address: 552 Rapanui Rd, Castlecliff, Westmere 4574, New Zealand
Website: Bason Botanic Gardens
7. Hiking through the Whanganui National Park
Beside the Whanganui National Park, flows the picturesque Whanganui River. The Whanganui River is related to the history of New Zealand, as it used to be an important pathway for the Maori tribes and the European traders. The Whanganui National Park was initially established to protect the upper part of this river. This park is also a great attraction for bird-watchers, due to the presence of unique and uncommon birds.
Unique birds like Blue-duck whio, the native pigeon Kereru, kaka, piwakawaka, riroriro, miromiro, tui, toutouwai and yellow-crowned parakeets can be found here. The best way to get a glimpse of the river and the birds is to take a hike through the Whanganui National Park. Nature lovers can also stay overnight in the Great Walk hikers’ huts or in the campsite located inside this park.
Whanganui National Park
Website: Whanganui National Park
8. Try canoeing and kayaking over the Whanganui River
Along with a hike to the Whanganui National Park, if you want to enjoy more of the beautiful Whanganui River, try the adventure activities. Over the Whanganui River, you can enjoy canoeing and kayaking. To enjoy most of these adventures, consider staying in a riverside camp. There are multiple tracks to take during your canoeing ride. Mostly, the starting point of these adventures will be at a place named Pipiriki.
Website: Visit Whanganui
9. Lastly, take an endless journey through the Bridge to Nowhere
Going on a path which doesn’t lead to anywhere specific, must be an exciting journey to follow. The Bridge to Nowhere is an icon which doesn’t have any specific routes to reach. You can reach this bridge by walking or biking through the mountains, or by boat or kayak through the Whanganui River. The bridge is constructed over the Mangapurua Stream. Previously, there was a swing bridge over the steam. Today, the stone bridge is one of the major tourist attractions of the town.
Bridge to Nowhere
Address: Whanganui National Park 4392, New Zealand
Website: Bridge to Nowhere
Whanganui, the third oldest settlement of New Zealand
Historically, the Whanganui region is the third oldest settlement of the country. This land has witnessed the war for land between the Maori and the European settlers. The heritage buildings of the city are a major attraction, as well as the art in many forms. Whatever your taste, you will find something for everyone in Whanganui.
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