All-Weather and Indoor Activities in Whanganui – Perfect for a Rainy Day!
Whanganui might not be the wettest place in New Zealand but it still gets its fair share of rainy days. No worries, because a good portion of Whanganui’s attractions is, indeed, indoors! This mostly consists of art galleries and museums, which are all part of the creative and historical charm of Whanganui. You can also enjoy a cruise on the Whanganui River, relax with a spa treatment or go out for some Kiwi cuisine! We go through some of your best all-weather and indoor activities in this list of things to do in Whanganui on a rainy day.
For more help planning your visit to Whanganui, check out The Complete Guide to Whanganui and find a place to stay in the 10 Best Motels in Whanganui. And when the weather clears up, be sure to look at the 14 Best Things to Do in Whanganui.
1. Visit the Whanganui Regional Museum
Starting off our list of things to do in Whanganui on a rainy day with perhaps a cliché activity, the local museum is well worth a visit. The Whanganui Regional Museum is an excellent place to learn about the Maori culture and Whanganui’s early European settlers. It houses all kinds of amazing Maori artefacts from tribes along the Whanganui River, as well as ancient skeletons from New Zealand’s extinct giant bird, the moa, and a mock-up town of old Whanganui. Browse the shop with all sorts of New Zealand and Maori-made items and enjoy the fact that this activity is also free! See more like this in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Whanganui.
Location: Queens Park Memorial Watt Street, Whanganui city centre.
2. Check Out the Sarjeant Gallery
If it’s not a museum you can rely on for a rainy day activity, then it’s an art gallery. Luckily, Whanganui has multiples of both! The most iconic art gallery in the city is the Sarjeant Gallery, which displays an array of art from as early as the 1840s to the present day. First opened in 1919, the art gallery is split between two venues, the original Sarjeant Gallery at Pukenamu at Queens Park and a modern warehouse at Sarjeant on the Quay along Taupo Quay. Entry to the exhibitions is free.
Location: 38 Taupo Quay, Whanganui city centre.
3. Visit the Riverboat Centre and Do a Cruise on the River
Throughout summer, the Whanganui River is alive with activity from its two river cruises on restored historical boats. The best one for a rainy day, however, is the Waimarie paddle steamer, which has a fully enclosed galley and bar with windows so you can watch the river scenery go by while staying dry. Cruises depart from the Riverboat Centre, which is part of the all-weather attraction and contains river-related artefacts and photography from the last century. It also houses homing pigeons, which guests on the cruise can use to send messages back to the Riverboat Centre.
Location: Waimarie – 1A Taupo Quay, Whanganui city centre.
4. Visit New Zealand Glassworks and Try Glassblowing
New Zealand Glassworks is yet another example of Whanganui’s creativity and talent with its glassworks gallery. It’s also a place, however, where visitors are encouraged to join in. Give glassblowing a go yourself with one of their workshops. Their most popular is their Make a Paperweight Workshop, which lasts approximately 30 minutes and concludes with you taking your own colourful paperweight home as a unique souvenir.
Location: 2 Rutland Street, Whanganui city centre.
5. Admire the Amazing Carvings of Pukiti Church
See beautiful Maori carvings (and stay out of the rain) at Pukiti Church, also known as St Pauls Memorial Church. The church is beautifully lit so you can admire the Maori carvings that tell the history of the local people, as well as woven 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. See more like this in the 10 Romantic Activities in Whanganui for Couples.
Location: 20 Anaua Street, Pukiti, approximately 3km (2 miles) from Whanganui city centre.
6. Check Out the Quartz Museum of Studio Ceramics
More art displays can be admired at the Quartz Museum of Studio Ceramics. Featuring more than 400 works of ceramic art, the museum is the only ceramics museum in New Zealand. The museum and art gallery is open from Tuesday to Sunday.
Location: 8 Bates Street, Whanganui city centre.
7. Venture Through The Durie Hill Tunnel
While checking out the views from the top of Durie Hill Tower is the main event of Durie Hill, technically, the Durie Hill Tunnel and Elevator are indoors, so you could definitely enjoy them on a rainy day. Get some cool photos in the 213m (700ft) long tunnel while keeping out of the rain and ride the historic elevator to the top of Durie Hill for only a few bucks. You might as well walk up the 176 steps to the top of Durie Hill Tower while you’re there, but be warned that the top of the tower is not undercover. Hopefully, you’re not made of sugar.
Location: Tunnel entrance at 42 Anzac Parade, Durie Hill, approximately 700m (8 yards) from Whanganui city centre.
8. Visit the Whanganui Tramways Museum
Transport enthusiasts, check out the No.12 vintage electric tram and Tingey Wagon at the Whanganui Tramways Museum, also known simply as The Tram Shed. A bright red tram shed alongside the Whanganui River, the Whanganui Tramways Museum opens on Sundays around 2pm and offers public rides on the tram on selected dates.
Location: 27 Moutoa Quay, Whanganui city centre
9. Treat Yourself to a Spa Day
Ease your muscles from the strains of road tripping around New Zealand with a luxury spa treatment at Indulge Skin Spa. The indoor day spa specialises in facial and body treatments for both women and men, as well as beauty treatments. Choose from their extensive spa menu or indulge in a spa package, like the 120-minute Refresh Package including a facial, back massage and body polish. See more activities like this in the 8 Luxury Activities in Whanganui.
Location: 45 Taupo Quay, Whanganui city centre.
10. Grab a Bite to Eat
And if none of the above appeals, then you can always go out for a bite to eat. Some of the culinary highlights of Whanganui include MOMIJI, a Japanese restaurant located in an old bank, specialising in authentic Japanese cuisine, as well as Japanese beers, sake and New Zealand wine. Alternatively, something Whanganui does extremely well is creative cafes, such as Article serving coffee in vintage teacups with retro art and decor to admire. Ambrosia Delicatessen & La Bolsa Negra boasts a European cafe and deli foods from around the world.
Location: MOMIJI – 26 Victoria Avenue. Article – 20 Drews Avenue. Ambrosia Delicatessen & La Bolsa Negra – 63a Ridgway Street.
11. Binge-Watch 365 Days, 365 Activities in New Zealand
If all else fails, you can always get some inspiration for your next epic New Zealand activity by watching New Zealand’s Biggest Gap Year on YouTube. Watch as the team behind NZ Pocket Guide take on 365 Days: 365 Activities in New Zealand! Make sure to subscribe.