Air NZ's top 10 picks for Whanganui

Whanganui’s answer to Paris and New York

Paris has the Eiffel Tower and New York the Empire State Building, but Whanganui’s vantage point on Durie Hill has it over them both when it comes to novelty value.

For to enjoy the views of this city and beyond you must first take a pedestrian tunnel which burrows some 200 metres into the hill.

There you board a 1919 elevator, the country’s only earthbound one, which carries you 65 metres to the top and a view from the top of the lift machinery room.

You can also choose to ascend the 176 steps of the adjacent 33.5metre Memorial Tower for a more elevated view.

Whatever you choose it’s worth the effort, for the views out across this riverside city, with Mt Taranaki and Mt Ruapehu and even the South Island visible on a clear day are truly magnificent. 

The Durie Hill Elevator and Tower are just one of the attractions in Whanganui which has a rich Maori and early European heritage dominated by the mighty Whanganui River (‘big river’ in Maori).

Make time for these ‘top 10’ attractions:


  • Kayaking and canoeing – explore the river by canoe or kayak. With its grade two rapids and long stretches of still water in the gorges the river makes for some very enjoyable multi day excursions

  • Jet boating – for a faster experience on the water take one of the jet boating expeditions

  • Fishing – try your luck at fishing in the trout rich river ways

  • Whanganui National Park – trek the native lowland bush is the region’s national park. One of the most popular walks in the 3-4 day Matemateaonga Track which follows and old Maori track

  • Hunting – head for the back country in pursuit of pigs, goats and fallow deer (check with the Department of Conservation for conditions)

  • Bridge to Nowhere – spare a thought for the WWI ex-servicemen who attempted to turn the rugged land of the upper Whanganui River region into farmland when you view this bridge. The concrete construction was built with the aim of giving these farmers better access to the land. Unfortunately by the time the bridge was finished the famers had given up so no connecting roads were ever built – hence the name

  • Whanganui River Road  – drive this historic road which follows the river and is dotted with historic landmarks and intriguing settlements including Hiruharama or Jerusalem, famous for the commune established by New Zealand poet James K Baxter.

  • Whanganui Regional Museum – delve into the history of Whanganui at this museum which has a range of permanent and changing exhibitions

  • The River Traders – buy your fill of local treats and crafts at this regular Saturday market on the banks of the river

  • Heritage architecture – appreciate the effort that has gone into preserving Whanganui’s historic buildings as you stroll along the marked Central City Heritage Walk and The Old Town Heritage Walk

Air New Zealand flies between Whanganui and Auckland and Wellington connecting it with 24 other destinations on the domestic network. For information and to book flights to Whanganui visit