Discover Whanganui in a Weekend

Whanganui was one of the first cities to be founded in New Zealand. Whanganui, meaning ‘big bay’ or ‘big harbour’, comes from the great river that flows through it.

Once New Zealand’s fifth largest city, Whanganui (previously spelled Wanganui) still features the picture-perfect heritage buildings, world-class museums and established gardens developed over a century ago. The built beauty is perfectly paired with the town’s natural landscape.

Look in any direction and you’ll see a wide river, black sand beaches or rolling green hills with views of Mt Taranaki and Mt Ruapehu on the horizon.

Home to hundreds of working artists, Whanganui is buzzing with creative energy. From the hot kiln studio at New Zealand’s only community glass centre to the prestigious New Zealand Opera School, there is no shortage of artistic talent. The town is also home to numerous galleries, theatres and music venues as well as two impressive art museums: The Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua and Quartz Museum of Studio  Ceramics.

Visit the regional museum and see the magnificent collection of Lindauer portraits and Maori treasures. And have a look at one of the more  unusual attractions, the earthbound elevator that rises to the top of Durie Hill.

But the real heart of this place, both physically and spiritually, is the Whanganui River – the longest navigable river in the country and once  known as the Rhine of New Zealand. In early times the river was an important transport route for Māori and European settlers.

Today, the Whanganui National Park is a place of river adventures where you can zip up the river by jetboat or cruise it by paddle steamer.  For a kayaking experience, try the Whanganui Journey which starts in Taumaranui and ends in Pipiriki, taking you through stunning bush- clad hill country and long narrow gorges. From Pipiriki you can hop a jetboat tour to the Bridge to Nowhere – built in 1936 for early  pioneering farmers and abandoned in 1942.

Local Favourites – Eat & Drink

Whanganui is a great destination for drinking and dining, from quirky cafes to fine dining restaurants and creative cocktail bars. Whanganui
has have a great round-up of dining options this autumn. We’ve got you sorted for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The Citadel
Picked by Lonely Planet as a contender for the North Island’s best burgers, The Citadel has been smashing it since opening in 2016. The heart of our seaside suburb of Castlecliff, the heated porch, piles of loaded chips and NZ craft beer selection will inspire a beach trip any
time of year.

Japanese Kitchen WA
Japanese Kitchen WA is tucked down a charming covered alleyway that’s cosy all year round. Great service, a tasty and authentic menu and unique ambiance make this a longstanding favourite.

Caroline’s Boatshed Bar and Eatery
Now to the other side of town! Our riverside suburb of Aramoho is the proud home of Caroline’s Boatshed Bar and Eatery. All-day gastro style dining, river views and a kid-friendly atmosphere makes this a favourite spot for families and groups. Ride your bike there via the riverside path from the CBD!

Rutland Arms

Truly the most Whanganui of Whanganui institutions: some variation of the Rutland Arms Inn has been in place at the corner of Victoria and Ridgway (NZ’s Most Beautiful St 2019!) since 1849. The restaurant leans into its history, with vintage photos lining the walls and classic pub grub on the menu. The Rutland also has one of the best craft beer tap lists in town.


Stella Restaurant & Bar
Whether you want a full dining experience, a casual brunch or lunch, or a lively late night entertainment venue, Stellar can make your visit a  fantastic experience. One reviewer writes, “Our dining experience at Stellar was truly memorable, from the moment we walked in the door… we were made to feel nothing was too much trouble.”