A little backstory – Growing up in the small Rangitikei town of Marton, I lived smack bang in the middle of Whanganui & Palmerston North. When faced with the choice of which town we should visit, hands down it was always Palmerston North. Palmy was always where it was at! Or so I thought anyway. Back then, it was all about the shopping & nothing else. I always associated Whanganui with being dragged around visiting relatives, which was nice but as a teenager it wasn’t my first choice in activity!
Fast forward ten years, I found myself married with a family of my own & considering a move to Whanganui.
Whanganui? What could possibly be the appeal? I thought…
During a conversation with my sister about whether we should make the move, she said some words I’ll never ever forget.
“You make your own memories”
So we decided to make the move to Whanganui to be closer to family. Being Mum to two boys under two was full on to say the least!
Of course, settling into a new town is always difficult but I remembered some more wise words said to me…
“It takes a good couple of years to settle into a new town”
Never a truer word spoken! So we settled into our new life in a new town.
We have lived in Whanganui for nearly eight years & it is now a place I can genuinely call home. As time has gone on & my boys have grown older we have explored every little nook & cranny of this town and believe that this town really is a hidden gem. We have seen so many positive changes here & it’s been great to watch it all unfold. Whanganui is a very good looking town & I want to share some of my favourite spots that we love to visit.
Virginia Lake is a wonderful place to take the family. There is so much to do here. Walk around the lake & enjoy the lovely greenery, bird life & little hidden treasures such as the Band Rotunda high above the lake – be sure to visit the Band Rotunda in the summer when the Pohutukawa trees are in full bloom. Perfection!
There is plenty of space for picnics, a secure playground (perfect for toddlers!) and a bird avery. Another highlight is the Winter Gardens which is great to visit any time of the year. The Funky Duck Cafe is situated in the Lake’s grounds which offers great food & coffee and a nice mixture of indoor & outdoor seating. Wanganui’s annual ‘Carols by Candlelight’ is held here & is a must do if you are here over the Christmas period.
Virginia Lake is a great place to visit all year round
Kai Iwi Beach/Bason Botanic Gardens
This is combination makes for an awesome day out for the family. Kai Iwi Beach is one of Whanganui’s best beaches and it really does cater for all. Kai Iwi is very family friendly which makes it so appealing. There is a great stretch of coastline to explore but please take care with the tides etc and don’t get caught out! There is also a fantastic playground, a massive BBQ & picnic area and lots of nooks & crannies to explore
The Bason Botanic Gardens is personally one of my favourite places to visit in Whanganui. Conveniently located on the way to Kai Iwi Beach, the Bason Botanic Gardens is over twenty five hectares of pure beauty. Escape the busyness of town & enter a beautiful world of gardens, greenery & birdlife. I guarantee you will not want to leave! There is plenty of space for family picnics & a little bit of cricket of you’re that way inclined. There are many walks, gardens & sculptures to enjoy. The gardens are beautifully maintained all year round & the area is always clean & tidy which is what makes it so inviting.
Whanganui’s best asset is definitely our river. It runs right through our picturesque town & provides locals and visitors with endless things to see & do. There are many walkways/cycleways & these are constantly being added to/improved to make them world class. The river holds many different events throughout the year, rowing & Waka Ama feature heavily. There are so many vantage points to enjoy our amazing piece of the landscape.
Durie Hill Tower, Elevator & Tunnel
When you visit Whanganui, you must visit these amazing attractions. Start at the bottom and make your way through the underground tunnel to the elevator. This attraction is so unique – in fact it is the only one of it’s kind in New Zealand. Then enjoy a ride up the elevator which goes up sixty-six metres to the top of Durie Hill. Here, you will enjoy breathtaking views of our city. Head up the orange elevator tower or if you don’t mind heights, the Durie Hill Tower is only a few metres away & offers truly panoramic views of our city – on a clear day you can see as far south as Kapiti Island & the nearby mountains of Taranaki & Ruapehu. Once you are done taking in the sensational views, make your way back down via the steps.
Whanganui has some adorable little spaces dotted around town. I’ll let the images speak for themselves here…
So why don’t you come & visit us, I promise you will not be disappointed. Allow yourself a good few days to enjoy our wonderful city which is also the gateway to other amazing destinations within New Zealand such as the breathtaking Taranaki Coastline, the Whanganui National Park & the Central Plateau.
There is a great selection of accommodation, restaurants & cafes to make your stay even more enjoyable.
From my destination to yours….