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New Zealand

What's On in Wanganui

Hotels and Accommodation in Wanganui

By Richard Moore

Wanganui, New ZealandThe historic city of Wanganui is a lovely place to visit in New Zealand, with a beautiful river and scenery available, as well as plenty of opportunities for hiking, canoeing and jetboating.





The locals clearly take a pride in their city with the central area being given an aesthetic boost with many of its old buildings getting new life in recent years.

There are very good restaurants in the central city and the Stellar, just off the river, can be given a big thumbs up.

It is styled in a semi-industrial fashion and the meals are both filling and excellent tasting. You'll find places with very different vibes, places where you can sit and play poker while you eat and then others that are more formal.

Whatever your taste there will be something in Wanganui to take your fancy.

Across the Whanganui River from city centre is an excellent lookout on Durie Hill.

Wanganui, New ZealandThere you can go up the Elevator - a viewing tower that - surprisingly - does not have a lift. Still the stairs are easy and the views over the city are very nice.

Behind the Elevator is the War Memorial Tower and from the top of that you can far beyond the city limits and to the mountains of Mt Taranaki (Mt Egmont) and the central range giant of Mt Ruapehu.

From the lookouts you can see the coal-fired Waimarie paddlesteamer, an original vessel that takes tourists on excellent river journeys on the Whanganui.

Near its berth is the Whanganui Riverboat Centre, which is a museum dedicated to the rich history of the river as a trading route.

The Whanganui River is New Zealand's longest navigable inland waterway. You will also see the fine parks and gardens including Queens Park.

Wanganui, New ZealandThere are suggested walking tours from the visitors' centre and the city's museum and gallery are ideal places to take time out to wander through.

Wanganui Regional Museum is one of the top-rated museums out of New Zealand's main cities and is host to superb Maori collections. One of the highlights would be the stunning and intricately carved Maori war canoe.

Accommodation is plentiful in Wanganui and this allows travelers to stay overnight with ease and take in some of the other sights in the area.

The countryside around Wanganui is amazing, mixing mountains and steep valleys in incredibly short spaces of distance.

Wanganui, New ZealandThe Whanganui River Road is an excellent way to catch the best of the scenery and at the end of it - having passed a wonderful old convent and St Joseph's Church in Jerusalem, where you can stay with the nuns if you book ahead, the Atene Skyline Walkway and an adventure Flying Fox - you reach Pipiriki, a once important town for riverboats.

In Pipiriki you can look at a land-based riverboat called the Ongarue, although for safety reasons you can't climb on board her. A museum at Colonial House covers the fascinating history of the town.

If you are heading towards Lake Taupo and the centre of the North Island, then you may want to consider continuing east from Pipiriki until you come within viewing distance of the mighty giants of the Central Plateau - Mt Ruapehu, Mt Ngaruahoe and Mt Tongariro.

The smallest of these snow-covered sights, Mt Tongariro, is 1967 metres high, while Ngaruahoe (2291m) and Ruapehu (2797m) are even more spectacular in good weather.

Raukawa Falls,  New ZealandState Highway 47 will take you around the western and northern sides of the mountains - opposite to the famous Desert Road of New Zealand.

Back around Wanganui you can take your pick of adventures to be part of. Near Makakaho Junction to the north-west of the city there are four-wheel drive adventures, jetboats and scenic flights.

If you like hiking through magnificent landscapes then consider the Matemateaonga and Mangapurua Tracks. They are four-day ventures around 40 and 42km long and the Matemateaonga is one of those little secrets New Zealanders keep to themselves.

Those who have done it rave about it. Personally, a 20 minute stroll to a waterfall is fine by me, although the Raukawa Falls can be seen and photographed from the road!


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