Driving down the west coast to Wellington from New Plymouth, Whanganui is the perfect stop. I didn't know very much about the town beforehand, and I discovered it's quite lovely.
At the edge of the town, if you're driving in from the direction of New Plymouth, is a large recreation park called Virginia Water. Judging from the amount of people I saw there, it's a very popular spot for the locals.
Lots of ducks!
The town had been quite prosperous as reflected by the heritage architecture that can be seen in the town today.
Queens Park Whanganui is the cultural centre of the town, there's an art gallery, a regional gallery with a major display of Maori artefacts and the war memorial centre.
The main street of the city centre decorated with hanging baskets, all very English to me! (There are hanging baskets galore during the summer months in the UK, towns, pubs, High Streets all have them)
The monument in the middle of the round about is dedicated to a former mayor. It was unveiled on this site in 1871 and then moved in 1906 to make way for a tram. The tram is no more, and in 1993 the monument arrived back in its original location. The heritage buildings are all nicely restored, it all makes for a pretty town.
Whanganui has an Opera House, built in 1899 and still in use today.
Whanganui was built by the river, that made a nice location to have lunch. After lunch had a walk along the river and found a paddleboat. Thrilled to see it as I had no idea paddle steamers were used in New Zealand. She arrived in Whanganui in 1899 and has been restored to her original condition. (Was thrilled to see a paddle steamer as they are a nostalgic connection with South Australia as they were the main form of river transport in the past.)
The Waimarie, behind her the tower on the hill is the Durrie Hill Memorial Tower, it was built in 1919 as a memorial to the New Zealanders killed in World War I. The red building to the right is the underground elevator that takes people up to the top of the hill. That's famous in its own right as one of only two public underground elevators that currently exist in the world.
The Waimarie centre which celebrates the paddle steamer era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The style of this building and its wooden construction makes it look to me as a building that should be in the United States. It has that cowboy (western) aura from what I've seen in movies!
I totally love this! Ultimate quaintness, I found it after consulting a map for public toilets. This is the 'Ladies' Rest' built in 1930 and they are public toilets but originally it provided some respite (rest) for the ladies who came in from the surrounding farmlands for a day in the town. (Later, men's toilets were built, they are to the right of the picture, a much smaller building and no rest involved!)
Whanganui was lovely, it's a beautifully maintained town which makes it a pleasure to visit. For more active tourists, the Whanganui river is the place to go. It attracts cyclists (on its banks!) hikers and canoeists. The Whanganui river is the longest navigable river in New Zealand. (There's a random bit of information for you all!)