30 pictures that can encourage you to go to Whanganui

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A few months in the past, I reconnected with a pal, Nikki, right here in New Zealand. Nikki attended one of many on-line bootcamps I used to co-run, the place we taught individuals construct a profession in journey or begin their companies. Final 12 months she and her companion determined to depart Wellington and head a few hours north to Whanganui, the place they’ve simply opened their boutique gin distillery, Papaiti Gin.

Whanganui sits midway between Wellington and Taranaki on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, one of many nation’s oldest cities. As we yarned on a Zoom name, I used to be instantly struck by how cool Whanganui sounded. My author’s ears perked proper up, listening to issues like a foodie scene, road artwork, cool nature, and artistic folks. I needed to go. 

Through the years, I’ve handed by way of Whanganui, however I’ve by no means really frolicked there. And I’ve been right here a very long time, and I’ve been in every single place, and it’s not typically that I really feel surprised by a vacation spot anymore. And guys, wow, Whanganui shocked me a lot! It was time to go to Whanganui correctly.

visit Whanganui

visit Whanganui

I don’t assume I can emphasize sufficient simply how essential the Whanganui River is, each previously, current, and future. The truth is, it’s so essential that in 2017 the Whanganui River was acknowledged in New Zealand legislation as a dwelling being with authorized personhood.

For Māori, the Whanganui River has lengthy been a significant supply of meals, transport, and a non secular dwelling. It’s been settled for almost one thousand years. As soon as Europeans arrived, they eliminated many buildings alongside the river the place Māori caught eels so their steamboats might journey additional. The Whanganui River is one in every of New Zealand’s oldest tourism facilities, with guests for the reason that late nineteenth century. In your journey to go to Whanganui, you have to spend a while on the river.

There’s a well-known Māori whakataukī (proverb) that ends:

‘E rere kau mai te Āwanui,

Mai i te Kāhui maunga ki Tangaroa

Ko au te awa ko te awa ko au.’

“The good river flows from the mountains to the ocean. I’m the river; the river is me.”

visit Whanganui

In any case, add Whanganui, New Zealand, to your bucket record ASAP. It’s not typically that I stumble throughout a spot that surprises me as a lot as Whanganui did. A visible feast, it’s received all the things I really like in a single place: epic nature, unbelievable historical past and tradition, nice foodie spots, and a thriving arts scene.

Whanganui was all the things Nikki described and extra. It’s good! If you consider a spot that’s up and coming, that is it.

I’ve received heaps of tales to share about my week-long journey right here; to go to Whanganui is to be delighted and shocked. Listed below are 30 of my favourite pictures from the journey – take pleasure in. 

visit Whanganui

visit Whanganui

Spend a while on the long-lasting Whanganui River

New Zealand’s longest-navigable river is without doubt one of the most extraordinary pure areas within the nation.

Right here you might have the perfect of all the things from historical past and tradition to unbelievable nature, all linked by the longest navigable river within the nation. Clocking in at 290 kilometers lengthy, it is usually formally one in every of New Zealand’s Nice Walks, however as an alternative of mountaineering on land, the Whanganui Journey is a Nice Stroll on water.

You’ll be able to paddle it in a Canadian-style canoe over three or 5 days staying in DOC huts alongside the way in which. This isn’t a visit for solo vacationers or those that aren’t sturdy swimmers, can paddle for hours and hours, or don’t have canoe/kayak expertise. However one of the best ways to expertise the river is on a guided journey.

I used to be fortunate sufficient to hitch in on a neighborhood Māori-owned and operated three-day journey with Whanganui River Adventures. We didn’t get so fortunate as we occurred to time it with the arrival of that massive, uncommon cyclone that hit Auckland and the North Island this summer season. We received sooner or later of paddling in earlier than the river flooded in a single day, and we needed to abort. At the very least this provides me a giant cause to come back again!

One other nice technique to get on the river nearer to city is to hop on the Waimarie, New Zealand’s solely coal-fired paddle steamer working from the golden riverboat period of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Additionally they have nice sustainability values. 

visit Whanganui

visit Whanganui

Sleep within the Ioana Tiny Home – a ship become a house

It’s not each day you get to remain in a historic boat that’s been transformed into a contemporary and classy tiny dwelling. The Iona Tiny House was dropped at life by native architect Elinor and sits alongside the banks of the Whanganui River, proper throughout from the middle of city. You’ve received metropolis and nature proper in your doorstep right here, actually.

Constructed from the timber hull of the Iona, a historic boat, it’s some of the fascinating and artistic locations I’ve stayed in New Zealand! With all of the trimmings and comforts you anticipate in a really cool setup, it’s good. And did I point out the picket outside spa?

Usually I get to remain in these locations for just one or two nights, however I spent almost per week right here. It was robust to depart. 

visit Whanganui

visit Whanganui

Meander by way of Bushy Park in search of birds

Coming off the Whanganui River early meant that I had additional time on my fingers. What would I seek for first? Native birds, after all. 

Whanganui is dwelling to one of many coolest predator-free ecosanctuaries in New Zealand: Bushy Park. I’d by no means heard of it, and it’s free! You may also drive contained in the reserve, which is uncommon for locations like this. Bushy Park is a must-do in case you’re eager to go to Whanganui and love wildlife.

Since I had no expectations, I used to be utterly blown away by this place. It was magical! And I had all of it to myself. With a number of kilometers of strolling tracks by way of Bushy Park, there’s one thing for everybody. You’ll additionally see a few of our rarer birds, together with the hihi/stitchbird and tīeke/saddlebacks. It’s additionally dwelling to Ratanui, the biggest rata tree in New Zealand.

visit Whanganui

visit Whanganui

Take a gin crafting class with Papaiti Gin

Nobody has been extra enthusiastic concerning the gin increase than me over time. Whereas I can’t fairly put my finger on the 12 months, I spotted I simply couldn’t drink something candy anymore; I keep in mind falling in love with gin in Spain. And boutique and small-batch distilleries? Nicely, these are my fave. 

I used to be so stoked to listen to Nikki take the leap of religion and open her personal gin distillery in Whanganui. After they moved as much as Whanganui from Wellington again in 2021, their home got here with pear orchards. Not sure of what to do with the fruit, the concept to launch a gin distillery appeared, and so they haven’t appeared again since.   

Freshly open and operating, Papaiti Gin options botanicals that mirror the land the place they craft it, resembling kawakawa, lemon, quince, basil, rose hip, stinging nettle, and, after all, pears. Papaiti is a small space of land above Aramoho on the precise financial institution of the Whanganui River. My favourite of their gins is certainly the Potager, which has essentially the most wonderful citrus style. 

They provide a gin crafting experience, which I heartily signed up for. It was a lot enjoyable making an attempt to choose the botanicals, and I cherished to whip up my very own batch. It didn’t end up half unhealthy, both!

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Take a look at the wonderful Whanganui Regional Museum

Okay, hear, guys. I do know I’m a nerd. I really like a great native museum. And the Whanganui Regional Museum is spectacular. And it’s free. Residence to an unbelievable taonga Māori assortment of artwork, historic objects, and Lindauer portraits. And upstairs, it has essentially the most epic assortment of moa bones, the large flightless extinct birds that when roamed New Zealand. I used to be blown away. I spent three hours right here and broke my “no extra shopping for new books” rule on the reward store.

And simply so as to add to that, one thing I discovered about Whanganui is pronounce it appropriately. In New Zealand, we study principally that in te reo Māori (Māori language), the letter mixture “wh” is pronounced as an “f.” Nevertheless, the native dialect right here drops the “h” and pronounces it as “Wanganui.”

Now, it is a gross oversimplification, however right here we go. Now some older pākehā (white kiwis) are nonetheless, properly, fairly racist and refuse to pronounce issues appropriately with the “f” sound for “wh,” in addition to worldwide guests who simply don’t know.

After which the remainder of us who pronounce them as we’ve got discovered to, with the “f” sound for “wh.” However then you definitely go to Whanganui, and it’s pronounced as a “w,” so that you get woke individuals like me making an attempt tremendous onerous to say all the things appropriately, but nonetheless messing it up. However now you already know. It’s right to discuss with “Whanganui” as “Wanganui” when spoken. No “f” sounds on this a part of the woods.

visit Whanganui

visit Whanganui

Get misplaced within the Paloma Gardens

As somebody borderline obsessive about botanic gardens, I couldn’t imagine my eyes after I stepped contained in the Paloma Gardens outdoors Whanganui for the primary time. How had I by no means heard of this wonderland? It completely ought to have been in my book!

Right here Nicki and Clive Higgie have spent over 30 years creating and sculpting some of the spectacular gardens within the nation. $10 money in an honesty field will allow you to in, and in case you’re like me, I wandered for hours and didn’t see one other particular person. If you wish to go to Whanganui and see the inexperienced facet of the realm, you’ll want to head right here.

visit Whanganui

visit Whanganui

Take a look at the wonderful road artwork

I’ve all the time thought a metropolis that invests in road artwork is a extremely cool metropolis. After a number of festivals over the previous few years, well-known road artists have flocked to create unbelievable murals across the outdated metropolis middle. 

Moreover, among the best methods to discover downtown Whanganui is by wandering round and testing the road artwork. What number of can you discover?

visit Whanganui

visit Whanganui

Indulge within the rising foodie scene

I don’t assume I had a nasty meal or a nasty espresso your entire time I went to go to Whanganui. I undoubtedly overdid it with the meals, although!

  • Favourite espresso: Article Cafe
  • Favourite brekkie: Little Curious Bagels
  • Favourite lunch: Mud Geese
  • Favourite dinner: Maria Lane Eatery
  • Favourite bar: Porridge Watson

visit Whanganui

visit Whanganui

visit Whanganui

Make a paperweight at New Zealand Glassworks

There may not be one other glassblowing studio in New Zealand the place you possibly can pop in and do an hour-long workshop to make your personal glass paperweight. You’ll love making one thing with glass in case you’re something like me. There’s one thing so mesmerizing about it, and it’s actually lovely. 

The artists at New Zealand Glassworks are world-famous, and their work is unbelievable, which you’ll recognize all of the extra after making an attempt to make a paperweight. 

Their paperweight glassblowing workshops replenish quick, so get in fast.

visit Whanganui

Take within the buzzing artwork scene

Whanganui is dwelling to a whole lot of working artists, and it has a really inventive vibe to it that you just’ll decide up instantly. And the art scene is just rising. It additionally feels recent, welcoming, and thrilling, such as you’re discovering new galleries and artists to observe.

Additionally, there are heaps of nice artwork galleries and two spectacular artwork museums: The Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua and Quartz Museum of Studio Ceramics.

visit Whanganui

visit Whanganui

Climb up the Durie Hill Tower for the perfect views of Whanganui

Durie Hill is a cute little suburb overlooking Whanganui and is dwelling to the one underground and public transport elevator in New Zealand. Over a century outdated, you stroll down an extended tunnel on the backside of the hill earlier than hopping on the elevator – $2 every means. The Durie Hill elevator is an iconic vacationer attraction if you wish to go to Whanganui, however locals additionally use it to get dwelling. 

The views on the prime are wonderful, however ensure to climb the 113-meter-tall tower, which serves as a battle memorial to the 513 individuals from Whanganui who died in WWI.

visit Whanganui

visit Whanganui

Head to the seashore for sundown

Lastly, it’s straightforward to consider the river when you think about Whanganui, nevertheless it additionally sits proper up alongside a fairly stretch of shoreline. With three nice beaches a straightforward distance from town, you’ve received a little bit of all the things: South Seashore, Kai Iwi Seashore, and Castlecliff Seashore. 

Most are patrolled in summer season with lifeguards, and they’re lovely to stroll alongside for sundown. 

Have you ever been eager to go to Whanganui? Have you ever been earlier than? Spill.

visit Whanganui

Many because of Whanganui and Companions for internet hosting me on this wonderful journey – like all the time, I’m maintaining it actual. All opinions are my very own, like you could possibly anticipate much less from me.