Art and the great out­doors come to­gether in the River City.

North & South - - Travel -

Whanganui strad­dles New Zealand’s long­est nav­i­ga­ble wa­ter­way and is sur­rounded by bush, beach and craggy hills. The city is also home to myr­iad gal­leries, restau­rants and cafes – mak­ing it a favourite get­away des­ti­na­tion for cul­ture and na­ture lovers alike. Trav­ellers will de­light in its laid­back at­mos­phere, while dis­cov­er­ing the city’s thriv­ing arts and de­sign com­mu­nity. And for a real change of pace, the lush Whanganui Na­tional Park is right on the doorstep.

Whanganui is less than a twohour drive to both Mt Taranaki’s ski area and the Tūroa ski field on Mt Ruapehu, so in winter, snow lovers are spoilt for choice. On a clear day, you can see both moun­tain peaks from Durie Hill, on the city’s east side. To get there, walk five min­utes from the Whanganui I- Site to an im­pres­sive 66m pedes­trian tun­nel. Stroll through, stop­ping for self­ies as you go, un­til you find your­self at the bot­tom of the Durie Hill el­e­va­tor – the South­ern Hemi­sphere’s only pub­lic un­der­ground el­e­va­tor – where a mod­est fare will trans­port you to the sum­mit for panoramic views of the city and a glimpse of the his­toric me­mo­rial tower.

Ac­com­mo­da­tion in the city runs from rus­tic to lux­ury, fam­ily-ba­sic to bou­tique. Those look­ing for the ro­mance of a tech-free hol­i­day will have all their needs met at the Flying Fox Re­treat, which of­fers glamp­ing, camp­ing and cot­tages on the banks of the Whanganui River. The eco-sanc­tu­ary, sur­rounded by na­tive bush and or­chards, has no road ac­cess, cell­phone reception or tele­vi­sion, promis­ing the chance to truly un­wind.

Sev­eral scenic jet­boat tours al­low you to ex­plore the river in style, stop­ping at key his­toric sites such as Moutoa Is­land and Jerusalem, or the fa­mous Bridge to Nowhere in Man­gapūrua Gorge. Whanganui Scenic Ex­pe­ri­ence Jet also rents kayaks for those who fancy a more leisurely river tour – and you can’t leave the River City with­out tak­ing a cruise on the beau­ti­fully re­stored Waimarie pad­dle steamer.

It’s easy to spend hours traips­ing round the city’s gal­leries and shops. Start at the coun­cil-run Sar­jeant Gallery, named af­ter colo­nial set­tler Henry Sar­jeant; it changes its ex­hi­bi­tions fre­quently so there’s al­ways some­thing new to ad­mire. The gift shop is full of lovely sou­venirs, too. More ob­jects of de­sire can be found at Quay­side An­tiques, which is jam-packed with knick-knacks from days gone by, and artist Rick Rudd’s Quartz Mu­seum of Stu­dio Ce­ram­ics. No fewer than 400 res­i­dent artists call Whanganui home and the city is known for its glass art and ce­ram­ics, es­pe­cially.

Don’t miss a fish-and-chip sup­per at Georges Fish­eries, where old-school decor and hearty por­tions meet 21stcen­tury con­cerns for sus­tain­abil­ity. All fish is line-caught, and eat-in meals are served with a stack of white bread and but­ter to make chip butties. Af­ter­wards, catch a show at the ma­jes­tic, gold-trimmed Royal Whanganui Opera House. A drink at nearby Lucky Bar + Kitchen, with its comfy couches and no-frills vibe, should round the evening off nicely. +

Whanganui, pho­tographed from Durie Hill. The Whanganui River runs from Mt Ton­gariro to the sea, and is crossed by four city bridges.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.