Wanganui is a city centrally located within a three-hour drive from Wellington, Taupo and New Plymouth. It is only six hours from Auckland via State Highway 4. If you love parks and gardens you'll love Wanganui.
Large areas of intact low-land forest adjoin the Whanganui River in its central and lower reaches. These large tracts of forest form the heart of Whanganui National Park. Within this forested environment the early Maori cultivated the sheltered terraces of the land and built their villages on strategic heights.
An unusual feature of the Whanganui River and National Park is the famous 'Bridge to Nowhere'. Built in the 1930's to provide access to developing farms in the Mangapurua Valley, the Bridge is virtually the only surviving sign that any settlement ever existed. The farms failed and the bush quickly reclaimed the track leading to the Bridge. An excursion from Wanganui incorporating a drive to Pipiriki along the Whanganui River Rd, a jet boat ride and a hike into the Bridge to Nowhere is one of the most popular day trips available in the National Park.
In Springtime the gardens are looking their best. You can take a twenty-five minute stroll around Virginia Lake with its colourful displays and tranquil environment, where young people enjoy feeding the ducks and ducklings, swans and birds. The Bason Botanic Gardens, a few minutes drive from Wanganui, is also a pleasure to visit in springtime. Wander through the homestead gardens enjoying their displays, or experience the many spring flowers while cooking on one of the reserve's free gas barbecues. Bason Botanic Reserve is a place the whole family can enjoy.
Springtime also sees the P.S. Waimarie cruising the Wanganui River. The P.S. Waimarie in New Zealand's only coal-fired paddle steamer and has been faithfully restored to its former glory. You will enjoy a warm welcome on the P.S. Waimarie which plied the Whanganui River for 50 years until she sank at her berth in 1952.
The weather is warm and swimming in local beaches make this a very popular time to visit.
The city is especially welcoming. Every summer from December to March hundreds of hanging flower baskets adorn the streets of central Wanganui as the city celebrates Wanganui in Bloom.
Wanganui. Well worth the journey.
Autumn is a special time for touring in a relaxed environment. A key attraction is the Whanganui River which is New Zealand's longest navigable river. River cruises are available on the 100 year old Paddle Steamer "Waimarie". Travel the historic River road and experience Maori culture in the numerous small settlements. In the autumn, the cruise operates 2pm daily, through May.
More information is available at http://www.wanganuinz.com/.
Wanganui is beautiful in all seasons, the lush greens of the river region and coastline always refreshing. The black sand beaches are isolated for a real get away from the rush and crush of modern life. Rich in both Maori and European history, the heritage buildings and museums hark back to colonial times and trading days. For an overview of the Maori history drop into the Whanganui Regional Museum which displays some wonderful wakas (canoes) as well as Maori carvings, ornaments, cloaks made of kiwi feathers and ceremonial portraits. For a taste of the old days on the river, ride the restored paddle steamer the Waimarie built in 1899.
Wanganui is also a great staging post to access Ohakune and the Tongariro National Park and the Tongariro Skifields and the active volcano Mt. Ruapehu.
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