Whanganui was one of the first cities to be founded in New Zealand. Whanganui, meaning 'big bay' or ‘big harbour', comes from the great river that flows through it.

Once New Zealand’s fifth-largest city, Whanganui (previously spelled Wanganui) still features the picture-perfect heritage buildings, world-class museums and established gardens developed over a century ago. The built beauty is perfectly paired with the town’s natural landscape. Look in any direction and you’ll see a wide river, black sand beaches or rolling green hills with views of Taranaki Maunga and Mt Ruapehu on the horizon in a clear day.

Whanganui is vibrant with its creative scene, boasting a multitude of talented individuals, numerous galleries, theaters, and music venues, as well remarkable art museums.

The real heart of this place, both physically and spiritually, is the Whanganui River - the longest navigable river in the country and once known as the Rhine of New Zealand.  In early times the river was an important transport route for Maori and European settlers.

Today, the Whanganui National Park is a place of river adventures where you can zip up the river by jetboat or cruise it by paddle steamer. For a kayaking experience, try the Whanganui Journey which starts in Taumarunui and ends in Pipiriki, taking you through stunning bush-clad hill country and long narrow gorges. From Pipiriki you can hop a jet boat tour to the Bridge to Nowhere - built in 1936 for early pioneering farmers and abandoned in 1942.

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