Whanganui is a place forever changing and yet comfortingly familiar. This sense of inspiration, innovation and familiarity is what causes visitors to fall for this famous “River City” and want to return again and again. Whanganui’s depth of character anchors its people and lends a sense of belonging that transcends time and place – those who have visited, or lived, in this uniquely inspiring region never forget the impression it makes.
An exceptional river
Whanganui is rich in history, culture and a diverse natural environment. Whanganui’s beauty, its legends and its incredible, ever-changing awa have inspired generations of visitors and inhabitants. Many of those visitors begin their Whanganui journey with the river, the heart of Whanganui’s community. The river’s pace matches that of its visitors, from slow and steady for river cruisers to heart-thumping for adventure kayakers.
Whanganui River was recognised as deserving the rights and respect afforded a living person when the Te Awa Tupua Act was signed into law in 2017. The River sustains and supports its people; E rere kau mai te Āwanui, Mai i te Kāhui maunga ki Tangaroa. Kō au te Āwa, kō te Āwa kō au. The great river flows from the mountains to the sea. I am the river, the river is me. This whakataukī (proverb) defines the iwi of the Whanganui River and region.
Whether on the river, alongside it, or enjoying the art, literature and creativity it has inspired, Whanganui River is an integral part of every visitor’s Whanganui experience, and is at the heart of life for its inhabitants.
City of Design
Whanganui is a unique blend of heritage architecture and cutting-edge creativity. Artists and creatives have made their mark on this region for 800 centuries and this history of creative energy, innovation and possibility lends life to a modern city which values people and potential.
With a thriving arts hub and reputation for internationally renowned design, Whanganui manages the feat of being a place which embraces modernity while celebrating and reflecting on its past.
Whanganui is home to the heritage craft of art glass, New Zealand Glassworks – Te Whare Tūhua o Te Ao, is the national centre for art glass and is located in the heart of old Whanganui. The contemporary gallery and exhibition mezzanine floor provide a great opportunity to see works by over 30 artists, and visitors can also book a glassblowing workshop.
Enthralling generations with its collection, Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui, is one of New Zealand's most important heritage buildings. The gallery was founded through the generosity of one man to his home city. In 1912, Henry Sarjeant left a huge sum of money – the equivalent of over $70 million in today’s terms – to establish the gallery “as a means of inspiration for ourselves and those who come after us”. This foresight and creative vision reflects the values the city’s inhabitants, and visitors, still value today.
Forever a favourite
Whanganui’s history full of stories, legends and rich legacy. Its thriving arts scene, creativity and evolving culture leave an enduring impression. Whanganui captures imaginations and finds its place into visitors’ hearts, ensuring a return trip is always on the cards. Find out more at discoverwhanganui.nz