Things to Do in Whanganui for Couples
Admittedly, many honeymooners and couples miss Whanganui from their honeymoon itinerary, but that’s what makes it so great. Off the main tourist trail, Whanganui is authentic and a classic New Zealand town. It’s full of beautiful parks and culture seen from its Maori churches to the river which is the only one in the world to be given the status as a legal entity. But whether you’re a couple who prefer to relax or prefer to adventure together, there are romantic activities in Whanganui to suit. Plan your activities with this list of things to do in Whanganui for couples!
For more trip-planning advice, check out The Honeymoon Guide to Whanganui.
1. Smell the Flowers at Bason Botanic Gardens
Start with a stroll in one of Whanganui’s beautiful parks like the Bason Botanic Gardens. See the extensive array of orchids or Daffodil Hill awash in yellow in spring. Admire the carpet of bluebells or, in October, colourful displays of azaleas and rhododendrons. Wander around the beautiful brick conservatories, which are open daily, and enjoy a picnic with free gas barbecue facilities and wide-open spaces.
Location: 552 Rapanui Road, Westmere, approximately 13km (8 miles) from Whanganui city centre.
2. Enjoy a Romantic Stroll Around Virginia Lake
An alternative park for couples to enjoy, Virginia Lake (Rotokawau) is closer to town and features an easy walk around the lake alive with birdlife. See pukeko, white and black swans, Australian coot and all sorts of ducks and geese as you wander around this picturesque park. It’s also where you’ll find the Whanganui Winter Gardens, as well as a cosy cafe. See more like this in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Whanganui.
Location: 110 Great N Road, St Johns Hill, approximately 3km (2 miles) from Whanganui city centre.
3. Do a Romantic Cruise Down the Whanganui River
Whanganui, of course, is the ideal place to experience the world’s only river that has a legal entity status! Experience a scenic journey and learn more about why this river is so significant on one of the riverboat cruises. Motor Vessel Wairua’s Hipango Park Picnic Cruise takes you to a stunning park only accessible by river. The park is complete with Maori sites of significance, bush walks, barbecues and more. Alternatively, take their Upokongaro Cruise up the river to a historic hotel for dinner. Cruises on the Whanganui River can also be enjoyed with Waimarie, New Zealand’s only coal-fired paddle steamer.
Location: Motor Vessel Wairua – Moutoa Gardens. Waimarie – 1A Taupo Quay.
4. Or Tackle the Whanganui Journey Together
The Whanganui River is also home to one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, which isn’t a walk at all but a multi-day canoe trip down New Zealand’s longest navigatable river. Ki Tai are a good option for exploring the Whanganui River by canoe. The Maori tour company will share the river’s history with you on one of their cultural tours. Alternatively, enjoy the experience, just the two of you, with freedom canoe hire and transport to and from the Whanganui Journey Great Walk, which Ki Tai can also arrange.
Location: Pick-ups available from Whanganui accommodations.
5. See Whanganui’s Beautiful Beaches
It might sound cliche, but there’s a reason why long walks on the beach are romantic. Luckily, Whanganui has three main beaches to enjoy, all of which are amazing places to watch the sunset. Castlecliff Beach is the best option for couples, especially by doing a walk at low tide underneath the rugged coastal cliffs. Kai Iwi Beach is more of a beach for families, while South Beach is a long and wild stretch of sand that goes on for miles and miles.
Location: Castlecliff Beach – End of Rangiora Street, approximately 8km (5 miles) from Whanganui city centre. Kai Iwi Beach – Just off Rapanui Road, approximately 17km (11 miles) from Whanganui city centre. South Beach – Adjacent to the Whanganui Airport, approximately 6km (4 miles) from Whanganui city centre.
6. Enjoy a Bike Ride Alongside the River
Whanganui is at the end of the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail, which is a mission in itself and definitely worth looking into if you’re keen cyclists. Otherwise, Whanganui provides more relaxing and romantic rides for couples, especially on the Round the Bridges Whanganui trail which follows boardwalks along the river and crossing four different bridges. Make an event out of it by stopping by various parks, cafes and other finds along the river. Get the trail description and mountain biking trails in the 6 Must-Do Bike Trails in Whanganui. Bikes can be hired from the Riverland Family Park, eBikes Whanganui and Velo Ronny’s Bicycle Store.
Location: Access is via Anzac Parade, Somme Parade, Putiki Drive and Taupo Quay.
7. See the Love Birds at Bushy Park Wildlife Sanctuary
If wildlife is something that makes your heart melt, then don’t miss the Bushy Park Wildlife Sanctuary. Enjoy 3.4km (2.1 miles) of easy walking trails throughout the forest where native birds, like bellbirds (kōmako), wood pigeons (kereru), saddlebacks (tīeke), stitchbirds (hihi), morepork owls (ruru) and more thrive. Be amazed by the diversity of New Zealand’s forests, from giant rata trees to colonies of ferns and mosses. What’s more, you can even stay at the wildlife sanctuary at the Bushy Park Historical Homestead as features in the 10 Best Romantic Accommodation in Whanganui.
Location: 791 Rangitatau E Road, Kai Iwi, approximately 24km (15 miles) from Whanganui city centre.
8. Admire the Amazing Carvings of Pukiti Church
There’s something quite romantic about wandering the intricately carved Pukiti Church, also known as St Pauls Memorial Church. Plus, it’s a good thing to do in Whanganui on a rainy day. The church is beautifully lit so you can admire the Maori carvings and tukutuku (wall panels) in all of their splendour. Guided tours are also available of the church, which you can book through the Whanganui i-SITE.
Location: 20 Anaua Street, Pukiti, approximately 3km (2 miles) from Whanganui city centre.
9. Watch the Stars at the Ward Observatory
Stargazing is a simple yet romantic way to spend an evening together, especially in New Zealand with the Southern Hemisphere stars being so prominent. Enhance the experience with one of the public viewings at the Ward Observatory happening every Friday after dark. Located in Cooks Gardens, the Ward Observatory is home to a 24cm telescope where you can see the stars and Saturn on a clear night through its powerful lens.
Location: Cooks Gardens, St Hill Street, Whanganui city centre.
10. Treat Your Loved One to a Romantic Dinner
First things first, don’t expect anything too lavish, such as fine dining in Whanganui. Enjoy the casual atmosphere with your loved one in one of Whanganui’s main restaurants, which are an interesting mix of European, South American and Japanese eateries. Japanese meals which can be enjoyed in the attractive alfresco environment of the Japanese Kitchen WA. We also like La Quattro, a Mexican restaurant that does a colourful array of cocktails and delicious Mexican dishes ideal for sharing. Finally, for the likes of New Zealand lamb, New Zealand green-lipped mussels and European-style food, check out places like Stellar Restaurant & Bar, Rutland Arms and Caroline’s Boatshed Bar and Eatery. See more dining recommendations in The Luxury Guide to Whanganui.
Location: Japanese Kitchen WA – 92 Victoria Avenue. La Quattro – 13 Victoria Avenue. Stellar Restaurant & Bar – 2 Victoria Avenue. Rutland Arms – 48-52 Ridgway Street. Caroline’s Boatshed Bar and Eatery – 181 Somme Parade.