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An abundance of creativity, art and heritage shaped by the Whanganui River, Te Awa O Whanganui


Did you know?

Kō au te Āwa, kō te Āwa kō au. I am the river, the river is me. New Zealand’s longest navigable river, from the mountains to the sea, is defined and adopted by this Māori proverb for all who love and visit this place.

Visit the city of Whanganui and see the resurgence of heritage, arts, culture and innovation.  

Surrounded by mountains and native forest, Whanganui is big enough to draw crowds and small enough to be intimate.

Air Chathams flies from Auckland to Whanganui 3 times a day Monday to Friday, once on a Saturday and twice on a Sunday.  It’s a quick and easy flight taking only an hour and Air Chathams provides the fastest direct route from Auckland to Whanganui.

With the inaugural Whanganui Heritage Month launched in August 2019, there are a number of wonderful heritage attractions set in and around the town and riverfront.  

Named New Zealand’s Most Beautiful Small City in 2020. 

It’s easy to enjoy walking along Victoria Street, stopping in at cafés and independent retail outlets before heading along the Whanganui River’s walkway.

Te Awa o Whanganui (the Whanganui River) is a major river in the North Island of New Zealand. 

It is the country's third-longest river, and the longest navigable river with special status owing to its importance to the region's Māori people.

In March 2017 it became the world's second natural resource to be given its own legal identity, with the rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person.

Coupled with a rich Māori history of settlement and trade, Whanganui also has many stories of early European settlement and places benefacted for the beauty and growth of the city today.

The Durie Hill Elevator is Sixty-six metres high and was built in 1919.  It is New Zealand’s only public underground elevator and unique in the southern hemisphere!

A pedestrian tunnel leads to the elevator and at the top the panoramic views of the Tasman Sea, Mount Ruapehu and Mount Taranaki are amazing.

Right next to the elevator tower is the fantastic War Memorial Tower, which, when climbed, will offer an even more amazing  vista of the city! 

Other heritage attractions are the Waimarie Paddle Steamer, the Wairua Motor Vessel, Sarjeant Gallery, Whanganui Regional Museum, St Paul’s Memorial Church at Putiki and historic Royal Wanganui Opera House.  



Durie Hill Memorial Tower
Durie Hill Memorial Tower
Waimarie Paddle Steamer
Waimarie Paddle Steamer


Whanganui River Traders and Farmers Market
Whanganui River Traders and Farmers Market


New Zealand Glassworks
New Zealand Glassworks


Head for a weekend with Air Chathams.  

You can fly from Auckland to Whanganui at 6:20pm on a Friday evening and arrive at 7:20pm.  

Return on a Sunday at 4:45pm with a Whanganui to Auckland flight arriving at 5:45pm or make the most of the day and head back to Auckland on the 6:45am departure Monday morning from the Whanganui Airport.  

You’ll be at the Auckland Airport by 7:45am in time for a second coffee!

With a climate reputed to be the fourth most temperate in the world, outdoor living and experiences are not to be forgotten.  

Three beaches, Castlecliff Beach, South Beach and Kai Iwi Beach, are all close to the town.  

Cycle trails and tracks, numerous art galleries and events, the New Zealand Glassworks and several music venues as well as a great café culture are all there to enjoy.  

You won’t run out of things to do.

Visit the Whanganui River Traders and Farmers Markets on a Saturday and take a casual stroll along the river boardwalks.  

People are friendly and will greet you with “kia ora” while shopping the independent boutiques and retro shops is a treat.

Bason Botanic Gardens, Virginia Lake, Paloma Gardens and the iconic Kowhai Park with cartoon and nursery rhyme figures, a pirate ship, octopus and dinosaur slide attracts generations of families every day.

Don’t be surprised to find an immediate sense of connection, an unexpected little slice of heaven, and real New Zealand authenticity in Whanganui today.


Whaganui, all you need (and then some)