By Bachchat staff
Wanganui (or Whanganui) is rich in Maori and European history, with strong links to the beautiful Whanganui River.
Close to the southeast end of the City Bridge is one of Wanganui’s more unusual features, an elevator leading to a monument on the top of Durie Hill. This is the only earthbound elevator in New Zealand. A pedestrian tunnel leads 205m inside the hill to the elevator rising 66m. There are good views from the top of the nearby memorial tower.
The Durie Hill War Memorial Tower is built from fossilised shell rock dated at more than two million years old. The tower is 33.5m tall and has 176 steps leading to the viewpoint. It offers excellent views of the city, Mt Taranaki and Mt Ruapehu and the Tasman Sea.
A walkway offers an alternative route via the 191 steps up Durie Hill to two viewpoints located at the top, one above the elevator’s machinery room and the other on the nearby Memorial Tower.
Wanganui’s sweeping beaches have a wild and rugged West Coast beauty, with black iron sands often strewn with driftwood. Kai Iwi beach is an attractive swimming beach 14km from Wanganui.
Wanganui’s Sarjeant Gallery is one of New Zealand’s finest and most historically important art galleries, renowned for its neo-classical architecture, natural lighting and magnificent display spaces. On the hill in Queens Park; it is the heart of art, culture and heritage in Wanganui.
The Gallery houses 6000 artworks ranging from historic, international and New Zealand art to dynamic contemporary art including a strong focus on New Zealand photography.
Also in Queens Park, the Whanganui Regional Museum has one of the finest collection of ancestral Maori treasures in the country, as well as replicas of extinct and endangered birds, and natural and human history collections.
Situated on Great North Road, Virginia Lake is a popular scenic attraction for visitors to the city. Virginia Lake has many features that make this lovely reserve well worth visiting. Highlights include The Winter Gardens, aviary, twin bridges and rose and wisteria pergolas, and the coin-operated Higgenbottom Fountain. The lights in the fountain are turned on every hour, on the hour, from 9am till 9pm. At night, the trees are softly illuminated and the fountain erupts in a spectacular, colourful display. There is a lovely 25-minute woodland walk around the lake edge, which features the statue of Tainui, the weeping maiden, historic band rotunda and ducks to feed.Photo: Takuta
Where to stay
What to do
- Climb the Durie Hill Tower
- Visit Whanganui Regional Museum and Sarjeant Gallery in Queen’s Park
- Drive the Whanganui River Road up to Pipiriki
- Feed the ducks at Virginia Lake
- See glassblowers at work at the Chronicle Glass Studio
- From Palmerston North by road: 74km
- From New Plymouth by road: 160km