Premium Tours and Experiences in Whanganui
Ok, so Whanganui city doesn’t exactly scream luxury, preferring to keep things casual with down-to-earth experiences. Nevertheless, lovers of art, culture and sublime scenery will love the tours and attractions that Whanganui has to offer. Cruise or paddle on the Whanganui River – a river so significant that it’s a legal entity – browse historic art galleries or indulge in a luxury spa treatment. All of these experiences and more are available in the city, so check out the luxury activities in Whanganui to start making your itinerary.
For more advice on planning your trip, check out The Luxury Guide to Whanganui and find a place to stay in the 5 Best Luxury Accommodation in Whanganui.
1. Enjoy a Premium Maori Canoe Journey on the Whanganui River
We probably don’t need to mention that a highlight of Whanganui is the historic Whanganui River, which holds an array of stories, culture and breathtaking scenery along its banks. Ki Tai offers a range of canoe and marae (Maori meeting house) tours on the Whanganui River. From one day experiences to a four-day premium cultural river journey, Ki Tai’s tours are a comprehensive and exciting way to experience the Whanganui Journey Great Walk combined with the Maori culture. For their fully-guided Whanganui Journey canoe trip, all you need is your sleeping bag and personal gear. They’ll sort you out with the rest, including food, a tent and a personal cultural river navigator.
Location: Pick-ups available from Whanganui accommodations.
2. Browse Historic and Contemporary Art at the Sarjeant Gallery
Whanganui has a fantastic array of art galleries, including the Quartz Museum of Studio Ceramics, Whanganui Arts @ The Centre, the Whanganui Regional Museum and more. The most iconic, however, is the Sarjeant Gallery. Displaying an array of art from as early as the 1840s to the present day, the Sarjeant Gallery is one of the most significant galleries in New Zealand. 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. Sail on a Historic Paddle Steamer on the Whanganui River
If you have less time to experience the Whanganui River, book onto a cruise on the only coal-fired paddle steamer in New Zealand, Waimarie. Learn about the boat’s fascinating story of restoration after being salvaged from the bottom of the Whanganui River and indulge in light meals and refreshing drinks at their onboard galley and bar. While there are many themed tours on their cruise calendar, their six-days-a-week Cruising at 11 tours have the unique aspect of releasing homing pigeons to fly your personal message back to the Riverboat Centre.
Location: 1A Taupo Quay, Whanganui city centre.
4. Do a Guided Sightseeing Tour Along the Whanganui River Road
Experience the Whanganui River from the comfort of dry land with Whanganui Tours. Not only do they transport you to the Whanganui River’s jet boat tours from Whanganui city, but they also offer bespoke sightseeing trips around Whanganui and up to Taranaki. If you don’t know what you want to see, why not join them for their Mail Run tour? This relaxing journey in their air-conditioned minibus takes you to remote parts of the Whanganui River to deliver mail.
Location: Pick-ups available from Whanganui accommodations.
5. Make Your Own Glass Paperweight at New Zealand Glassworks
New Zealand Glassworks is not only the national centre for glassblowing in New Zealand, but it’s a place where visitors are encouraged to join in. Browse a stunning array of glass art in their gallery and even give glassblowing a go with one of their workshops. Their most popular workshop for beginners is their Make a Paperweight Workshop, which lasts approximately 30 minutes and concludes with you taking your self-made colourful paperweight home with you as a unique souvenir. What’s more, the activity is one of the 10 Things to Do in Whanganui on a Rainy Day.
Location: 2 Rutland Street, Whanganui city centre.
6. Do a Horse Trek at South Beach or Castlecliff Beach
Riding a majestic horse is a special way to experience Whanganui’s scenery, especially its ruggedly beautiful coastline. Actifun Horse Riding offers half-day to full-day treks on South Beach and Castlecliff Beach, backed by rugged cliffs and rolling sand dunes, as well as compact sand ideal for cantering. The full-day experience also includes a picnic lunch. See more activities like this in the 10 Things to Do in Whanganui with Kids.
Location: 7 Holmwood Road, Kaitoke, approximately 5km (3 miles) from Whanganui city centre.
7. Treat Yourself to a Spa Day
Take a break 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.
Location: 45 Taupo Quay, Whanganui city centre.
8. Indulge in Whanganui’s Cuisine
In tune with riverside city’s laidback atmosphere, Whanganui doesn’t exactly do “fine dining”. Nevertheless, there are some noteworthy eateries that are still worth trying out if you’re a bit of a foodie, such as with MOMIJI. Located in the sophisticated setting of an old bank, this Japanese eatery specialised 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.
More About Luxury in Whanganui
That’s it for the best luxury activities in Whanganui. Find even more tips to make your luxury getaway exceptional in The Luxury Travel Guide to New Zealand.