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BUG New Zealand travel guidebook

Destination guides > Pacific Islands > New Zealand > Manawatu-Wanganui > Wanganui & Whanganui National Park > Wanganui


Wanganui is one of New Zealand’s oldest European settlements and possibly­ the country’s most underrated destination. It is a small city of around 50,000 with a lively cultural scene that you would expect in a much larger city. It is also a pretty town with lovely architecture, including some great Art Deco buildings and a nice riverfront promenade that hosts a great Saturday morning market.

There’s not a lot to do in town unless you like visiting glass blowing studios; and let’s face it, that isn’t high on the backpackers’ list of things to do. However Wanganui is a great place to stock up on supplies and make arrangements for the Whanganui River Journey – an epic three to five-day canoe trip on the Whanganui River, which incidentally is probably New Zealand’s most underrated outdoor activity.

Practical information

Wanganui i-SITE Visitor Centre

101 Guyton Street, Wanganui
Tel (06) 349 0508
Website www.wanganuinz.com
Open Mon-Fri 8.30am-5pm, Sat-Sun 9am-3pm

Department of Conservation

74 Ingestre Street, Wanganui
Tel (06) 345 2402
Website www.doc.govt.nz
Open Mon-Fri 8am-5pm

Coming & going

InterCity Coachlines (tel (04) 385 0520) has buses to Auckland, New Plymouth and Wellington and White Star Bus (tel (06) 759 0197) stop in Wanganui en route between New Plymouth and Wellington. Buses stop outside the Travel Centre at 156 Ridgway Street.

Hostel accommodation

Anndion Lodge

143 Anzac Parade, Wanganui
Tel (06) 343 3593 or 0800 343056

No booking fee when you book this hostel online at bug.co.uk

Braemar House YHA

2 Plymouth Road, Wanganui
Tel (06) 347 2529

No booking fee when you book this hostel online at bug.co.uk

Tamara Backpackers

24 Somme Parade, Wanganui
Tel (06) 347 6300

No booking fee when you book this hostel online at bug.co.uk

Eating & drinking

Victoria Avenue is Wanganui’s main restaurant and café strip, particularly between Maria Place and the City Bridge.

Stellar Restaurant & Bar (3 Victoria Avenue, Wanganui) is a good choice with a bar, quality pub-style food, a great atmosphere and free Wi-Fi. Vega (49 Taupo Quay, Wanganui) is another bar with good food specials. Vega has a brilliant riverfront location, right across the road from Stellar. Your best bet, however, is to buy fish and chips – there are a couple of fish and chip shops on Victoria Avenue – to eat on the riverbank.

Wanganui’s most centrally located supermarket is Countdown (corner Taupo Quay & Wilson Street, Wanganui). Other supermarkets in Wanganui include New World (374 Victoria Avenue, Wanganui), Pak’n Save (167 Glasgow Street, Wanganui) and Woolworths (Upper Victoria Avenue, Wanganui).

Sightseeing, museums & tourist attractions

Durie Hill Elevator & Memorial Tower

If you walk across the Wanganui City Bridge you’ll come to the Durie Hill tunnel, which takes you 205m into the hill where it meets the Durie Hill Elevator. Built in 1919, this historic lift takes you 66m up to the top of the hill. Once at the top, you can climb the 33.5m Memorial Tower for spectacular views of the city. On a clear day you can see Mounts Ruapehu and Taranaki.

Access to tunnel from Anzac Parade, Wanganui
Open Mon-Fri 7.30am-6pm, Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 10am-5pm

Queens Park

Originally the site of a Māori pā, this city park is home to several of Wanganui’s main sights including the Sarjeant Gallery and the Whanganui Regional Museum.

Sarjeant Gallery

The world-renowned Sarjeant Gallery occupies an imposing neo-classical building in Queens Park. It is one of New Zealand’s best regional art galleries and is host to a varying exhibition programme.

Queens Park, Wanganui
Tel (06) 349 0506
Website www.sarjeant.org.nz
Admission free
Open 10.30am-4.30pm daily

Whanganui Regional Museum

This imposing regional museum is home to an extensive collection of exhibits with a focus on Maori culture, local and natural history. It is noted for its collection of Lindauer portraits and Maori taonga.

Watt Street, Wanganui
Tel (06) 345 7443
Website www.wanganui-museum.org.nz
Admission $5
Open 10am-4.30pm daily

Whanganui Riverboat Centre

The Whanganui Riverboat Centre consists of the restored 100 year-old steam-powered paddle steamer Waimarie and a small museum. Waimarie plied the waters of the Whanganui River between 1899 and 1949 and she capsized and sank in 1952. In 1993 Waimarie was salvaged and after a seven-year restoration programme she was re-launched in 2000. Waimarie now runs regular cruises 13km upriver to the small settlement of Upokongoro.

1A Taupo Quay, Wanganui
Tel (06) 347 1863 or 0800 STEAMER
Website www.riverboat.co.nz
Cruise $33
Open Mon-Sat 9am-4pm, Sun 10am-4pm

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