Beach, bikes, BBQ’s, lazy river days and a ton of fun!
What’s a New Zealand summer all about? Having some fun, swimming and playing at the beach, a slow river cruise and a family picnic? Relax at a café with a coffee and friends before strolling along a boulevard of boutique shopping? Want cycling, fishing, forest walks and a return to nature? Where’s the one place you can find all of this without having to go too far? Whanganui.
Really. Whanganui. Whanganui is a unique treasure in the North Island having shared its natural beauty and many attractions with settlers from over 175 years ago. It is still a beautiful place to visit and all the things that made it New Zealand’s 5th biggest city until 1936 remain as appealing and enjoyable as it did then.
One of New Zealand’s oldest cities, founded in 1840, 195 km north of Wellington and 164 km south-east of New Plymouth, near the mouth of the Whanganui River. The name means ‘big harbour’, although another version is ‘‘long wait.’’
There are three beaches – South Beach, for a wild West Coast beach experience, walking, driftwood and a 4×4 Canam tour over the dunes; Castlecliff Beach for a spot of surfing, family swimming and sandcastle building and of course the picturesque Kai Iwi Beach with campgrounds and BBQ facilities.
The mighty Whanganui River entices and charms with a relaxing flow. You can take a slow coal-fired paddle steamer cruise, on the Waimarie, a trip to the local village Upokongaro on the MV Wairua or select from a range of canoe and kayaking tours.
Take the family to Kowhai Park.
Famous for bringing back generations to play, Kowhai Park delights and entertains children of all ages. A hollow octopus head allows children to climb over the eyes, stand inside and peer out while swings are suspended from the giant tentacles spreading in all directions.
The slides are fantastically unconventional as a studded dinosaur back to the tail of a whale, spiraling inside a clock tower and of the ‘Old Woman’s Shoe’ inspired by the nursery rhyme of the same name.
Sit on a turtle or a toadstool, swing your legs besides Humpty Dumpty on his wall, stop and have a chat with the Three Bears and save Miss Muffett from the spider.
Waterplay fountains are safe and such a delight on a hot day!
Don’t forget the little merry-go-round and try the rocket ship to the moon or become a pirate on board the big ship. Wiggle through interconnecting tunnels under a concrete mountain or ‘rock climb’ your way to the summit.
As an extra bonus, Whanganui has NZ’s best fish and chips for that summer treat at Victoria Fish Shop in Victoria Street. Tell them the LetsGoKids guy from Melbourne sent you. As good as it gets!