Heritage Experiences

Whanganui’s history is accessible to everyone. Our stories are authentic, intimate and surprising — inviting visitors to lean in, look closer and discover more.

See, Do, Experience

St Paul’s Anglican Memorial Church in Pūtiki

Filled with beautiful and intricate Māori carvings and tukutuku weaving a tale of the people and the land of this area, St Paul’s Anglican Memorial Church is one of the most intricately and beautifully decorated churches in Aotearoa.

The St Paul’s Memorial Church site dates back to 1842, and several buildings have been constructed on this site over the years. See the building and hear the story from local guides steeped in the knowledge of this historic treasure.

Waimarie at dock

Whanganui Riverboats

The Whanganui River was one of New Zealand’s first tourist attractions, with riverboat adventures drawing overseas visitors as far back as the 1880s. Plenty has changed since then, but some things remain the same: two authentic riverboats still cruise Te Awa Tupua (the Whanganui River).

The Paddle Steamer Waimarie was salvaged from the bottom of the Whanganui River, where it sat for around 50 years, and restored to its former glory and re-launched in 2000 to make it New Zealand’s last steam-powered and coal-fired passenger paddle steamer operating from the golden riverboat era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Waimarie cruises upriver from October to May.

The Motor Vessel Wairua joined the famous Hatrick & Co Whanganui River Steamer fleet in November 1904 and was a pioneer of river travel above Pipiriki. Now faithfully restored to first-class condition, The Motor Vessel Wairua offers day picnic trips to Hipango Park, cruises to Upokongaro and personalised cruises for all occasions.

Whanganui Regional Museum is great for families

Whanganui Regional Museum

Set in the heart of the Whanganui cultural centre on Queen’s Park, the Whanganui Regional Museum offers visitors a rare experience — a journey into the hearts and minds of the people of Whanganui. Famed for its Taonga Māori collection, you can see the exceptional creations of the tūpuna of today’s Whanganui River Māori. Settlers and their struggles, the natural world of Whanganui and the creation of a mature and sometimes controversial city are interpreted in a changing exhibition programme with a world-class collection.

Durie Hill Elevator and Tower

The Durie Hill Underground Elevator was built to provide residents of the garden suburb easier access to the growing city. Built in 1919, it is New Zealand’s only public underground elevator and is still used daily by locals and visitors. Access is through a 113-metre long pedestrian tunnel at the end of which visitors are welcomed aboard the elevator for a 66-metre ride to the top of the hill. The elevator ride costs $2 each way.

Unveiled in 1925, the Durie Hill War Memorial Tower stands adjacent to the smaller Durie Hill Elevator Tower, and for those willing to climb the spiral of another 176 steps, even more impressive views can be seen from the top.

Stay

Tea and scones at Tarapuruhi Bushy Park is a must-do

Tarapuruhi Bushy Park

The 1906 Edwardian-era homestead is registered as a Category One Heritage Building. Designed by renowned architect Charles Tilleard Natusch, rooms are available for homestay guests. The interior features fine wood panelling and a magnificently carved mantelpiece in the dining room. It was built in 1906 by Messrs. Russell and Bignell of Whanganui at a cost of £4,566. Bushy Park homestead’s design is more formal than most of Natusch’s houses, primarily due to the influence of Moore, who rejected Natusch’s initial design preferring a more classical home of a Regency/American Colonial style, incorporating classical columns.

Rutland Arms

Whanganui was a garrison town from 1846 to 1870, a period during which the British Regiments were stationed here. The Rutland Hotel was named for the English county of Rutland in honour of the regiment, which manned the stockade in 1847. It is thought the hotel was built to cater to nearby thirsty soldiers. Known in its early days as “the finest hotel between Wellington and New Plymouth” and a place where “professionals dallied, did business, and generally enjoyed themselves”, the Rutland once again caters for elegant guest accommodation and makes for a very enjoyable stay.

Where to stay in Whanganui

For a quick overview of what’s available and to book online, use our Booking.com accommodation widget.

For expert local advice or further help on your stay, contact our Whanganui i-SITE visitor centre or browse our guides on Where to stay.

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