Walk Around Virginia Lake
By Deb Alexander
Virginia Lake is a Whanganui Icon. You can’t come to Whanganui and not take a walk at Virginia Lake! One of my memories as a child was coming to Virginia Lake, walking around the lake and feeding the birds. Of course I didn’t appreciate the place at the time but it has gotten better and better over the years. Now, when I come with my family, I am super impressed with how the lake and surroundings look. It really is a beautiful spot and most definitely well worth a visit when in Whanganui.
Virginia Lake offers so much for families and visitors to our town. It is an easy 45 minute walk around the lake with so much to see along the way. Make sure that camera is handy! I have spent many afternoons with my family enjoying the scenery that Virginia Lake has to offer and have many wonderful photos to show for it. It is just a really nice, relaxing place to go for a good dose of fresh air and nature.
I won’t mention the time when one of my boys nearly ended up in the lake – a memory I would rather forget!
It is an easy 45 minute walk around the lake with so much to see along the way. Make sure that camera is handy!
We have a special Christmas tradition in our family – every year on the 23rd December, we go to the lake for a walk and I take a photo of my boys walking around the lake and spending some quality time together. So far I have managed to get the two of them holding hands every year for this annual photo – I don’t know how long this will last!! We will enjoy it while it does. It’s really lovely to look back and compare the photos and see how much they have grown.
There is plenty of birdlife around Virginia Lake – pukekos, ducks and many beautiful swans to name just a few. Perfect for the birdwatchers among us! There are beautiful flowers, gardens and bridges to admire. A personal favourite of mine is the Band Rotunda overlooking the lake – be sure to visit at Christmas time when the Pohutukawa Trees are in full bloom, you will not be disappointed!
There are three different walks around the lake – a lakeside lower walk, a middle track and a higher one which offers great views of the lake.
Autumn is also a great time to visit Virginia Lake with all the beautiful colours. There is plenty of seating dotted around the lake so there are many chances to soak up the atmosphere. What I love about Virginia Lake is the fact that I often see so many people from around the world coming to visit this place, it’s just lovely.
Once the lap of the lake is complete, there is still much more to see!
The Higginbottom fountain stands proudly in the middle of the lake and when it is lit up in the evening it really is a sight to see – spectacular colours and a perfect photo opportunity!
The Winter Gardens is a personal favourite of mine. I love the bold colours of the beautiful flowers displayed here. The displays change throughout the year and there are quirky pieces of art dotted throughout the garden. The Winter Garden is housed in a magnificent orange Art Deco building which truly stands out! There is a sweeping lawn in front of the gardens which is a great spot for picnics – be sure to bring some bread for all the hungry ducks! The lawns are lined with more beautiful flowers. See if you can spot Peter Pan somewhere around here!
The Funky Duck Cafe is adjacent to the Winter Gardens which offers a nice array of food, drink and most importantly – ice cream! The club sandwiches are very nice here too.
The Bird Aviary is definitely a must see – the kids will love it. Mine definitely do! It is a ‘free flight’ aviary which has 400 birds of 32 species! Birds from around the world can be seen here, my boys enjoy having a conversation with one or two of them as well. Great entertainment!
What I love about Virginia Lake is the fact that I often see so many people from around the world coming to visit this place, it’s just lovely 🙂
The Children’s playground is only meters away from the aviary. What I love about this particular playground is that it is fully fenced – any parents of toddlers will appreciate this!
When my boys were little, I used to visit this playground often with them. It was the perfect place for them to burn off all that energy. I really was thankful for a fully-fenced playground back then! Nowadays my boys reckon they are too old for this playground but I have caught a glimpse of them eyeing it up from time to time!
The punchbowl staged amphitheatre is another popular feature of Virginia Lake. The annual ‘Carols by Candlelight’ is held here and it is such a wonderful event to get folks into the Christmas spirit.
At our school every year, the year 4 children visit a rest home near the lake to sing Christmas carols to the residents and afterwards they come to the Punchbowl to do an encore for the parents. It is such a wonderful event for families to enjoy. Both my boys have taken part in this – a wonderful memory.
Virginia Lake really is a wonderful place to visit in Whanganui. It is the perfect spot for family outings, weddings, visitors to our town and everyone in between. Be sure to add Virginia Lake to the list of things to do in Whanganui and create some beautiful memories all of your own!
From our destination to yours…