Things To Do In Whanganui
Whatever your ideas for experiencing things to do in Whanganui, we can find something magic for you! Explore the mighty Whanganui River, immerse yourself in the offerings of our contemporary and historical museums and art galleries, take a leisurely cycle or walk in our natural parks and reserves, or just sit back and relax and soak it all up! There are plenty of things to do in Whanganui, the home of Arts and Heritage in New Zealand!
Durie Hill War Memorial Tower & Elevator
Sixty-six metres high, the Durie Hill Elevator was built in 1919 and is NZ’s only public underground elevator and unique in the southern hemisphere! A pedestrian tunnel leads to the elevator and at the top the panoramic views of the Tasman Sea, Mount Ruapehu and Mount Taranaki are amazing. Right next to the elevator tower is the fantastic War Memorial Tower, which, when climbed, will offer an even more amazing vista of the city! These are the places for your selfie 🙂 One of the top things to do in Whanganui!
Please note: Durie Hill elevator is set to receive a major upgrade to its entrance as well as a maintenance overhaul of its lift car in February. The elevator will be closed for around 12 weeks from 15 February, 2021.
On the banks of the mighty Whanganui River, Kōwhai Park is for small and big kids alike! Kowhai Park in Whanganui has been delighting children for decades. Parents that played there while young bring their children back to experience the same fun! Ride a brontosaurus, check out the pirate ship, swing on an octopus, see-saw with a snake and on a hot day play in the water maze. Weekends and holidays children can ride on the Tot-TownRailway. A must visit for families looking for things to do in Whanganui, and a favourite for all!
Virginia Lake is a premier outdoor garden park and is a beautiful destination for visitors and locals! Take a 25 minute woodland walk around the lake, spy Peter Pan’s statue and enjoy the birdlife, both on and around the water. The Winter Gardens is an all‑year‑round attraction with colourful displays whatever the season or weather. Adjoining is the Art Garden combining sculpture and garden art. Visit in the evening and see the historic Higginbottom Fountain lit up at night. Add in a children’s playground and a free bird aviary and this makes Virginia Lake one of the best attractions of things to do in Whanganui! (Did we mention the friendly ducks and geese?!)
Paddle Steamer Waimarie
The Waimarie is a unique turn-of-the-century paddle steamer and the only operating coal-fired paddle steamer in NZ. She arrived in Whanganui in 1899 and has been fully restored to her original condition. Moored on the banks of the river near the Riverboat Centre, we celebrate the riverboat era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Looking for a bit of history on your list of things to do in Whanganui – then enjoy stepping back in time and take a leisurely cruise on the mighty Whanganui River!
Explore The Whanganui River
Te Awa o Whanganui (The Whanganui River) is the longest navigable river in New Zealand and attracts cyclists, hikers, canoeists and day trippers. The river is part of Te Araroa and the Whanganui Journey is one of the NZ’s Great Walks.
Here you will find one of the regions most iconic attractions, the legendary Bridge To Nowhere, hidden deep in the wild native bush of the Whanganui National Park. Contact the Whanganui i-SITE Visitor Centre for more info and start to plan your adventure! There are many options and things to do in Whanganui on our beautiful Awa River).
St Pauls Memorial Church, Putiki
St Pauls Anglican Memorial Church in Putiki, Whanganui, is one of the most intricately and beautifully decorated Churches in Aotearoa, New Zealand. This unique building is adorned with fascinating Maori tukutuku (weavings) and lattice designs which speak of the history of the church and the area. The Church site itself dates back to 1842, and several actual buildings have been constructed on this site over the years. The current church dates back to 1936 and is a thing of wonder to behold. Book a guided tour, see the building, and hear the story from local guides steeped in the knowledge of this historic treasure! Put this on your list of things to do in Whanganui!
bushy park wildlife sanctuary
Bushy Park Reserve is a 100 hectare native forest sanctuary kept predator‑free for native birds and is ranked one of Australasia’s ‘Top 25’ Restoration Projects. There are 3.4km of easy all‑weather walking tracks throughout the forest and a huge variety of bird life and species of trees. Don’t miss ‘Ratanui’, believed to be the biggest northern rata, 43 metres high with a girth of more than 11 metres with an age of between 500 and 1000 years.
While you’re there, visit the 22 room 1906 Edwardian‑era homestead and enjoy a picnic. You can also book accommodation here and enjoy a peaceful stay in the magnificent heritage homestead. Campervans are welcome to stay, too! Contact the Whanganui i-SITE Visitor Centre for more details and more Things To Do In Whanganui!
Whanganui River Traders Market
The Whanganui River Traders Market is an eclectic mix of art, plants, food, crafts and much more! This busy weekly market is located on the downtown Whanganui Riverbank where, historically, Māori traded their produce, and happens every Saturday morning from 9:00am – 1:00pm, rain or shine! Shoppers can buy colourful art and craft, fresh garden plants and products, mouth-watering home baking and preserves, flavour-filled organic fruit and vegetables and a range of other goods. Be sure to visit the Whanganui i-SITE Visitor Centre nearby for Things To Do In Whanganui!
With dynamic and regularly changing exhibitions set in a sleek contemporary space within an historic warehouse, the Sarjeant on the Quay is the temporary home of the Sarjeant Gallery and its collection.
Set the heart of Taupō Quay, the Sarjeant on the Quay’s shop specialises in exclusive gifts including jewellery, objects & glass. The Sarjeant holds more than 8 000 artworks in its collection with a comprehensive NZ art history from the 1840’s to the present day. The iconic neoclassical Sarjeant Gallery at Queens Park is set to undergo a $35 million redevelopment and although closed, remains a Whanganui “must see” site.
Whanganui Regional Museum
The Whanganui Regional Museum is a must see with collections dated from 1890 and is famed for its Taonga Māori Collection, second to none in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is home to the largest permanent collection of Moa bones in the world (over 1000 bones), as well as housing one of the most extensive collections of Lindauer paintings in the country. The Museum Shop and Gallery stocks works by local artists and specialises in books on local history, Maori culture and the natural world. A must on your list of Things To Do In Whanganui!
New Zealand Glassworks
Whanganui is famed for its glass art with over 400 resident artists. Several studios offer weekend workshops so you can have a go too! New Zealand Glassworks allows free public viewing of the glass blowing process. Situated in the heart of historic old town Whanganui just around the corner from the Whanganui i-SITE Visitor Centre for more Things To Do In Whanganui!.
Mountains To Sea Cycle Trail
The Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail is the most diverse in NZ. With numerous sections beginning in Ruapehu, the final stage brings you down the Whanganui River Road, past historic landmarks both Māori and European. Carry on into the city, past public art on the riverbank and out where the river meets the Tasman Sea… Then visit the Whanganui i-SITE Visitor Centre for Things To Do In Whanganui!