30 pictures that may encourage you to go to Whanganui10 min read
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 how one can construct a profession in journey or begin their companies. Final 12 months she and her accomplice 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, avenue artwork, cool nature, and artistic people. I needed to go.
Over time, I’ve handed via Whanganui, however I’ve by no means truly 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 usually that I really feel shocked by a vacation spot anymore. And guys, wow, Whanganui shocked me a lot! It was time to go to Whanganui correctly.
I don’t assume I can emphasize sufficient simply how essential the Whanganui River is, each up to now, current, and future. The truth is, it’s so essential 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 an important 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 certainly one 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 nice river flows from the mountains to the ocean. I’m the river; the river is me.”
In any case, add Whanganui, New Zealand, to your bucket record ASAP. It’s not usually that I stumble throughout a spot that surprises me as a lot as Whanganui did. A visible feast, it’s obtained all the pieces I like in a single place: epic nature, implausible historical past and tradition, nice foodie spots, and a thriving arts scene.
Whanganui was all the pieces Nikki described and extra. It’s excellent! If you consider a spot that’s up and coming, that is it.
I’ve obtained heaps of tales to share about my week-long journey right here; to go to Whanganui is to be delighted and shocked. Listed here are 30 of my favourite pictures from the journey – take pleasure in.
Spend a while on the enduring Whanganui River
New Zealand’s longest-navigable river is among the most extraordinary pure areas within the nation.
Right here you will have the perfect of all the pieces from historical past and tradition to unimaginable nature, all related by the longest navigable river within the nation. Clocking in at 290 kilometers lengthy, additionally it is formally certainly one of New Zealand’s Nice Walks, however as a substitute of mountain climbing on land, the Whanganui Journey is a Nice Stroll on water.
You may 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 robust 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 an area 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 massive, uncommon cyclone that hit Auckland and the North Island this summer season. We obtained someday of paddling in earlier than the river flooded in a single day, and we needed to abort. Not less than this provides me a giant purpose 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. In addition they have nice sustainability values.
Sleep within the Ioana Tiny Home – a ship became a house
It’s not every single 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 obtained metropolis and nature proper in your doorstep right here, actually.
Produced from the timber hull of the Iona, a historic boat, it’s one of the vital attention-grabbing and artistic locations I’ve stayed in New Zealand! With all of the trimmings and comforts you count on in a really cool setup, it’s excellent. 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 powerful to depart.
Meander via 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, in fact.
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 may also drive contained in the reserve, which is uncommon for locations like this. Bushy Park is a must-do should 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 via 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 most important rata tree in New Zealand.
Take a gin crafting class with Papaiti Gin
Nobody has been extra enthusiastic concerning the gin growth than me through the years. Whereas I can’t fairly put my finger on the 12 months, I spotted I simply couldn’t drink something candy anymore; I bear 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. 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, they usually haven’t seemed again since.
Freshly open and operating, Papaiti Gin options botanicals that replicate the land the place they craft it, reminiscent of kawakawa, lemon, quince, basil, rose hip, stinging nettle, and, in fact, pears. Papaiti is a small space of land above Aramoho on the fitting 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 select the botanicals, and I cherished to whip up my very own batch. It didn’t prove half dangerous, both!
Take a look at the wonderful Whanganui Regional Museum
Okay, pay attention, 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. Residence to an unimaginable taonga Māori assortment of artwork, historic objects, and Lindauer portraits. And upstairs, it has probably 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 present store.
And simply so as to add to that, one thing I discovered about Whanganui is how one can pronounce it appropriately. In New Zealand, we be taught principally that in te reo Māori (Māori language), the letter mixture “wh” is pronounced as an “f.” Nonetheless, 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 we now 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 onerous to say all the pieces appropriately, but nonetheless messing it up. However now you already know. It’s appropriate to check with “Whanganui” as “Wanganui” when spoken. No “f” sounds on this a part of the woods.
Get misplaced within the Paloma Gardens
As somebody borderline obsessive about botanic gardens, I couldn’t consider 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 one of the vital spectacular gardens within the nation. $10 money in an honesty field will allow you to in, and should 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 aspect of the world, make sure to head right here.
Take a look at the wonderful avenue artwork
I’ve at all times thought a metropolis that invests in avenue artwork is a very cool metropolis. After a number of festivals over the previous few years, well-known avenue artists have flocked to create unimaginable murals across the previous metropolis heart.
Moreover, the most effective methods to discover downtown Whanganui is by wandering round and trying out the road artwork. What number of can you discover?
Indulge within the rising foodie scene
I don’t assume I had a foul meal or a foul espresso the complete 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
Make a paperweight at New Zealand Glassworks
There won’t be one other glassblowing studio in New Zealand the place you’ll be able to pop in and do an hour-long workshop to make your individual glass paperweight. You’ll love making one thing with glass should you’re something like me. There’s one thing so mesmerizing about it, and it’s actually stunning.
The artists at New Zealand Glassworks are world-famous, and their work is unimaginable, 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.
Take within the buzzing artwork scene
Whanganui is house to a whole lot of working artists, and it has a really artistic vibe to it that you just’ll choose 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.
Climb up the Durie Hill Tower for the perfect 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 manner. 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 be certain to climb the 113-meter-tall tower, which serves as a warfare memorial to the 513 folks from Whanganui who died in WWI.
Head to the seaside for sundown
Lastly, it’s simple to consider the river when you think about Whanganui, however it additionally sits proper up alongside a fairly stretch of shoreline. With three nice beaches a straightforward distance from town, you’ve obtained a little bit of all the pieces: South Seaside, Kai Iwi Seaside, and Castlecliff Seaside.
Most are patrolled in summer season with lifeguards, and they’re stunning to stroll alongside for sundown.
Have you ever been eager to go to Whanganui? Have you ever been earlier than? Spill.
Many because of Whanganui and Companions for internet hosting me on this wonderful journey – like at all times, I’m preserving it actual. All opinions are my very own, like you can count on much less from me.