Find a host of golden daffodils, a sea of pink camellias or the oldest rata tree in New Zealand. Whanganui's gardens and reserves are picture perfect.
Bason Botanic Gardens in Whanganui has been acclaimed by the New Zealand Gardens Trust as a 'Garden of Regional Significance', so it's definitely worth squeezing into your itinerary. Once part of a farm, the gardens were gifted to Whanganui by Stanley and Blanche Bason in 1996. In spring you'll find a mass of camellias, daffodils, magnolias and flowering cherry trees. In summer, roses and perennials paint the landscape with a rainbow of colours. Walking trails lead around the gardens and the original homestead.
Another of Whanganui's natural attractions is Bushy Park Forest Reserve - nearly 100 hectares of native forest eight kilometres from Kai Iwi on the Whanganui to New Plymouth highway. The reserve's hero is 'Ratanui', a rata tree which is estimated to be somewhere between 500 and 1000 years old. With a girth of more than 11 metres and standing 43 metres high, Ratanui is believed to be the largest rata tree in New Zealand. Bushy Park was gifted to the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society in the 1960s. Today it is a predator-free bird sanctuary with a very successful kiwi creche.