See Do Experience
I am the river, the river is me
E rere kau mai te Āwanui, Mai i te Kāhui maunga ki Tangaroa. Kō au te Āwa, kō te Āwa kō au.
There are so many incredible scenic spots to explore in Whanganui, from leisurely walks alongside the riverbank and family strolls around Rotokawau Virginia Lake, to challenging mountain-biking rides and full-day treks.
Walkers and cyclists have endless opportunities to get into Whanganui’s beautiful natural environment.
The easy 2km track around the lake takes you past the Band Rotunda, twin bridges, wisteria pergolas and public art. The park also encourages visitors to explore, with an Aviary, Winter Gardens and Art Garden on site.
A great outing for families, this easy 1.7km loop winds through woodlands and around the shores of Westmere Lake. The area is a designated wildlife refuge and is home to native birds and water fowl.
This short loop takes you along a well-formed track through native podocarp-hardwood forest. The reserve is home to native birds and is an excellent picnic spot.
These private gardens have been landscaped with plants from around the world and have been awarded ‘Garden of National Significance’ by the NZ Gardens Trust. Explore the whimsically themed sections, scattered with outdoor art. There is a $10 entry fee.
The Bason Botanic Gardens, rated a ‘Garden of Regional Significance’ by the New Zealand Gardens Trust, covers 25-hectares. Explore the English Garden, the Mediterranean plantings, the Native Wetlands and more. Expansive lawns, free gas BBQs, picnic tables and a three-hole disc golf course make this an ideal spot for picnics.
This predator-free reserve features 5km of well-marked, easy walking paths through native lowland forest and wetlands. Ranked as one of Australasia’s top conservation projects, you’re likely to encounter rare native birds even on short walks. The forest is open during daylight hours but self-contained motorhomes, camping or accommodation in the Edwardian homestead an be arranged. No dogs permitted.
The Waitahinga Trails are shaded by native forest canopy and feature picnic areas and look-outs along the way. On a clear day there are great views of Taranaki and Mt Ruapehu. The Emerald Waitahinga Dam, built in 1904, is a worthwhile destination for more advanced walkers. The Picnic Dell route 10 minutes from the carpark. The Chicken Run route 1-hour return easy walk. Cropper’s Clearing route 90-minute return easy walk. Waitahinga Dam route 4 to 5 hours return with steep climbs.
2 hours or 6-8 hours
For more serious walkers, the Ātene Skyline Track is a six to eight hour round trip hike through a small accessible section of Whanganui National Park. The walk includes some steep climbs, which are rewarded with good views. A free campsite midway provides shelter. The Viewpoint Walk is a two-hour walk to a lookout point. From here you can see views of the cut-off meander of the old Whanganui River bed. Return the same way.
The rural Westmere Walkway cuts through private farmland. Some sections are steep and the track requires a moderate level of fitness, however you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of farmland, the Whanganui River valley and the city. Expect to experience livestock, uneven ground, mud and unfenced water.
This picturesque 1-3 hour route runs over footpaths and boardwalks along the Whanganui River. You can do a circuit of all three of the city’s bridges or choose a shorter circuit. Cobham (SH3) & Whanganui City Bridge Circuit route 3.6km, 1 hour Whanganui City & Dublin St Bridge Circuit route 4.2km, 1 ¼ hour Dublin St & Railway Bridge Circuit route 3.3km, 1 hour Cobham, Whanganui & Dublin St Bridge route 10.5km, 3 hours The section between the Dublin St Bridge and the City Bridge on the city side of the river is wheelchair accessible.
If you want to extend your walk, you can also turn off Somme Parade at Halswell St and walk up the treelined street and up St Johns Hill along the Peat Park Deer Sanctuary. Follow Virginia Rd to Rotokawau Virginia Lake.
1 ¼ hours
This loop takes you up Bastia Hill to the iconic water tower and offers remarkable views of the city. Start at the base of Georgetti Rd, turn left into Wairere, right at Mt View Rd and left into Bastia Ave. Return the way you came or continue on Mt View Rd to the hillside walkway down to Ikatara Rd. At the top, you’ll get an up-close look at the Roman-inspired water tower, built in 1927 (water tower is not open to the public). The path is steep and may require a moderate level of fitness.
Visit the iconic Durie Hill War Memorial Tower (free entry) via the unique Durie Hill Elevator. Enter through the carved gateway and walk the 213m tunnel to the elevator. Built in 1919, the elevator is still used daily by commuters ($2/adult, $1/child one way – cash only). At the top, you can take in panoramic views of the city, the river and the harbour from the elevator’s viewing platform or climb to the top of the nearby Memorial Tower. Complete the circuit by coming down the steps to the City Bridge.
Castlecliff Beach can be reached via a short drive from town or a bike ride along the riverside path. The North Mole, where the Whanganui River meets the sea, is a popular fishing and surfing spot, and trails through the sand dunes are good
15-min drive from i-SITE Whanganui
Kai Iwi Beach, Mowhanau Village is 15km west of Whanganui. A big playground, shallow stream and wood-burning BBQs make this popular swimming beach a great destination for families. At low tide you can walk all the way to Castlecliff Beach (2-3 hours one way) or Okehu Stream (about 2 hours).
20-min drive from i-SITE Whanganui
Park on the cliff tops and pass by a small waterfall on your way to the beach. At the bottom of the trail, you’ll find pristine black sand to explore.
route 30 Min Drive From i-SITE Whanganui
Adjacent to Whanganui Airport is South Beach. When the tide goes out, South Beach is a 20km stretch of sand perfect for walking, fishing and swimming.
route 10 Min Drive From i-SITE Whanganui
The pump track is a circuit of sealed rollers, berms and jumps that loops back on itself. It includes senior and junior tracks, two permanent shade areas and a learn-to-ride track for young children to practice safe cycling and scootering.
7-min drive from i-SITE Whanganui
Easy-Grade 2, Intermediate-Grade 3
Ideal for families and young children, a grand circuit of 10km covers trails in two separate areas (Wiritoa and Pauri) connected by a short section of road. Pauri provides the easiest trails and is the best for children. All trails are signposted and numbered to form a continuous loop. Easy short loops are identified by road marker poles. A couple of hill climbs reward bikers with wonderful views. Sand-based Wiritoa and Pauri tracks provide all-weather riding.
10-min drive from i-SITE Whanganui
Easy-Advanced: Grade 2-4
Hylton Park offers the rider a bit of everything packed into a series of linked tracks containing short climbs and descents, and featuring a professionally built flow trail (Shredder). In total the trails make up a 9.3km loop overall. The trails are great for beginner and intermediate riders. Please respect the trails during wet conditions.
8 -min drive from i-SITE Whanganui
That Place is a small private mountain bike park situated 30 minutes north of Whanganui city. To get there turn left on Kaiwhaiki Rd. You’ll find That Place at the end of the gravel road (approximately 10km) There are a range of intermediate to advanced trails and a flat loop for beginners. The park offers guiding, coaching and access to the mountain bike park. The space is also available to walkers, runners and campers. Access to the park is thorough a booking system at www.that-place.co.nz
20-min drive from i-SITE Whanganui