30 photographs that can encourage you to go to Whanganui

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A few months in the past, I reconnected with a good friend, Nikki, right here in New Zealand. Nikki attended one of many on-line bootcamps I used to co-run, the place we taught folks find out how to construct a profession in journey or begin their companies. Final yr she and her associate determined to go away 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 inventive people. I needed to go. 

Through the years, I’ve handed by way of Whanganui, however I’ve by no means really hung out there. And I’ve been right here a very long time, and I’ve been all over the place, and it’s not typically that I really feel surprised by a vacation spot anymore. And guys, wow, Whanganui stunned 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 necessary the Whanganui River is, each previously, current, and future. In actual fact, it’s so necessary that in 2017 the Whanganui River was acknowledged in New Zealand legislation as a residing being with authorized personhood.

For Māori, the Whanganui River has lengthy been a significant supply of meals, transport, and a non secular house. 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 may 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 should 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

visit Whanganui

In any case, add Whanganui, New Zealand, to your bucket checklist 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 bought every little thing I like in a single place: epic nature, improbable historical past and tradition, nice foodie spots, and a thriving arts scene.

Whanganui was every little thing Nikki described and extra. It’s good! Whenever you consider a spot that’s up and coming, that is it.

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

visit Whanganui

visit Whanganui

Spend a while on the enduring Whanganui River

New Zealand’s longest-navigable river is likely one of the most extraordinary pure areas within the nation.

Right here you have got the most effective of every little thing from historical past and tradition to unbelievable nature, all related by the longest navigable river within the nation. Clocking in at 290 kilometers lengthy, it’s also formally one in every of New Zealand’s Nice Walks, however as an alternative of climbing 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 best way. 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 simplest ways to expertise the river is on a guided journey.

I used to be fortunate sufficient to affix in on a neighborhood Māori-owned and operated three-day journey with Unique Whanganui River Experiences. We didn’t get so fortunate as we occurred to time it with the arrival of that vast, uncommon cyclone that hit Auckland and the North Island this summer time. We bought someday of paddling in earlier than the river flooded in a single day, and we needed to abort. Not less than this offers me a giant purpose to come back again!

One other nice approach 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. In addition they have nice sustainability values. 

visit Whanganui

visit Whanganui

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

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

Made out of the timber hull of the Iona, a historic boat, it’s one of the vital attention-grabbing and inventive locations I’ve stayed in New Zealand! With all of the trimmings and comforts you count on in a really cool setup, it’s good. And did I point out the wood out of doors spa?

Usually I get to remain in these locations for just one or two nights, however I spent almost every week right here. It was powerful to go away. 

visit Whanganui

visit Whanganui

Meander by way of Bushy Park on the lookout for birds

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

Whanganui is house 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 too can 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 house 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 in regards to the gin increase than me over time. Whereas I can’t fairly put my finger on the yr, I noticed 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? Effectively, 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. Once 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 regarded again since.   

Freshly open and operating, Papaiti Gin options botanicals that replicate 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 proper financial institution of the Whanganui River. My favourite of their gins is unquestionably the Potager, which has probably 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 beloved to whip up my very own batch. It didn’t prove half dangerous, both!

visit Whanganui

Try the wonderful Whanganui Regional Museum

Okay, hear, guys. I do know I’m a nerd. I like a great native museum. And the Whanganui Regional Museum is spectacular. And it’s free. House to an unbelievable taonga Māori assortment of artwork, historic objects, and Lindauer portraits. And upstairs, it has probably the most epic assortment of moa bones, the massive flightless extinct birds that after 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 present store.

And simply so as to add to that, one thing I discovered about Whanganui is find out how to 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 pākehā (white kiwis) refuse to pronounce issues appropriately with the “f” sound for “wh,” in addition to worldwide guests who simply do not know.

After which the remainder of us who pronounce them as now we have discovered to, with the “f” sound for “wh.” However you then go to Whanganui, and it’s pronounced as a “w,” so that you get woke folks like me making an attempt tremendous laborious to say every little thing appropriately, but nonetheless messing it up. However now . It’s appropriate 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 consider my eyes once I stepped contained in the Paloma Gardens exterior 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 one of the vital 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 individual. 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

Try 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 previous metropolis middle. 

Moreover, the most effective 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 the whole 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 may 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 respect all of the extra after trying to make a paperweight. 

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

visit Whanganui

Take within the buzzing artwork scene

Whanganui is house to a whole bunch of working artists, and it has a really inventive vibe to it that you simply’ll choose up instantly. And the art scene is barely rising. It additionally feels contemporary, 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 most effective views of Whanganui

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

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

visit Whanganui

Head to the seaside 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 bought a little bit of every little thing: South Seashore, Kai Iwi Seashore, and Castlecliff Seashore. 

Most are patrolled in summer time 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 preserving it actual. All opinions are my very own, like you can count on much less from me.