Discovery Campervans New Zealand
See the old and new of Whanganui

New Zealand's "River City", Whanganui, is located on the west coast of the country's North Island. The Whanganui River forms the core of the district and runs through the heart of the city, giving it its "river city" status. The city is not only famous for its heritage and strong focus on the arts, but it also has a strong background of both Maori and European history.

The city of Whanganui is situated 200 kilometres north of Wellington and 75 kilometres north-west of Palmerston North. This means that you can pick up your campervan hire New Zealand in Wellington, where you will find several depots that will be convenient for you. The scenic drive towards Whanganui is simply stunning. Take your time and soak up the spectacular landscapes and majestic mountains that surround you, stopping on the side of the road wherever catches your eye.

Whanganui is located at the junction of State Highway 3 and State Highway 4, so you can't miss it. While you are out this way, you may as well take a detour along Whanganui River Road. This scenic route runs 80 kilometres through the lover valley to Pipiriki. On this drive you will experience some of the most rugged, majestic scenery in New Zealand. You will travel through the native forest clad hills, farmland and beautiful valleys of the Whanganui National Park, a stunning natural wonderland that is the true highlight of the drive. The drive eventually merges back to Raetihi where you will once again rejoin State Highway 4.

In Whanganui itself, the river is the centre of the city. The waters of Whanganui are a source of recreational pleasure and offer countless activities, including rowing, windsurfing, water-skiing, jet-skiing, yachting, jet boating and canoeing.

Apart from the river, the city of Whanganui is a vibrant and talented artistic community. The city centre itself is home to many galleries and studios featuring glass, painting, sculptures, photographs, ceramics, textiles, and Indigenous arts and crafts. These galleries will bring out your artistic streak and will make you marvel at the creativity and uniqueness of their creators.

To gain a sense of the local history and days gone by, a trip to the nearby museums will do the trick. Visit the Whanganui District Museum and you will be able to explore why the region is so renowned for its rich cultural heritage and dramatic natural landscapes. The Whanganui Riverboat Centre is home to a unique Maritime Heritage Museum. Located on the banks of the river, this stunning building features displays that tell the story of the riverboat era on the river. A visit here will widen your understanding and give you a heightened understanding of the importance of the river to the locals.

While down by the river, you can widen your understanding even further, by taking a leisurely cruise on the beautifully restored paddle steamer, the PS Wamarie. This historic boat will take you down the river, with an on deck bar making the experience even more enjoyable!

For those car lovers out there, don't worry, there is something in Whanganui for you too! Boyd's Auto Barn is a fun family experience that is home to a wide selection of 1920's to 1980's vehicles and other memorabilia. In fact, you don't have to be a car lover to fall in love with Boyd's Auto Barn as it will be a fun experience for all.

Whanganui is a special place that offers something that the whole family can enjoy. Whether you are searching for history and culture, the beauty and wonder of a national park or simply want to cruise along the river, then Whanganui will not leave you hanging. Whanganui is the perfect place all year round and a must to add to your New Zealand campervan itinerary.

Christine Barton