The Top Places to Visit Near Whanganui
At the mouth of the iconic Whanganui River, Whanganui is a city of culture, art and surrounding natural beauty. But when you feel like a change of scenery, there’s plenty of amazing road trips to be had. Venture down the Whanganui River Road for a remote and scenic journey, travel from the sea to the mountains on a trip to Ohakune, or swap the city for another city by heading to Palmerston North. We go through some excellent day trips from Whanganui in this guide.
For more trip-planning advice, take a look at The Complete Guide to Whanganui.
4 Best Day Tours from Whanganui
Before we get into the self-drive day trips from Whanganui, you might want to take a look at the guided day tours. That way, you don’t need to worry about organising an itinerary nor driving yourself.
Guided Day Tours from Whanganui
- Whanganui River Road Mail Run Tour with Whanganui Tours
- Whanganui River canoe tours with Ki Tai
- Full-day horse treks with Actifun Horse Riding
- River cruise to Hipango Park with Motor Vessel Wairua.
Whanganui River Road
The Best Day Trip from Whanganui for Couples
Travel time by car: 40 minutes to 1h40mins one-way
Follow the journey of the Whanganui River, New Zealand’s longest navigable river and legally a “living entity”, on the Whanganui River Road. Visit historical sites, Maori maraes and hike the Atene Skyline Walk. The road ends in Pipiriki, which is the gateway to the Whanganui National Park and home to jet boat excursions taking you to the Bridge to Nowhere.
For more points of interest on your day trip from Whanganui, check out the 9 Must-Do Stops on the Whanganui River Road.
The Best Day Trip from Whanganui for Families
Travel time by car: 1h25mins one-way
After following a scenic winding road trip along the Mangawhero River, you’ll reach the town of Ohakune at the base of Mt Ruapehu. Tackle the Ohakune Old Coach Road bike trail, hike to Waitonga Falls, or simply enjoy its eateries and iconic chocolate eclairs available in winter.
Check out more activities in the 14 Outstanding Things to Do in Ohakune.
The Best Day Trip from Whanganui for Foodies
Travel time by car: 1 hour one-way
Whanganui’s neighbouring city is Palmerston North, which boasts some of its own unique attractions. See native birds at Wildbase Recovery, go for a walk in the Manawatu Gorge, and visit the New Zealand Rugby Museum. Palmerston North is also home to some excellent cafes, bars and restaurants.
Find out more about visiting Palmerston North in the 10 Super Things to Do in Palmerston North.
The Best Day Trip from Whanganui for Budget Travellers
Travel time by car: 1h10mins one-way
Venture into the Taranaki region on a road trip to Hawera. Stop by the town of Patea for its impressive collection of bones and Maori artefacts in Aotea Utanganui – The Museum of South Taranaki. In Hawera, do the obligatory climb to the top of the Hawera Water Tower for amazing views of the coast and Mt Taranaki (on a clear day). Check out the miniature displays at the Tawhiti Museum and stick your toes in the sand at Ohawe Beach.
For more ideas on what to do, head to the 10 Excellent Things to Do in Hawera.
The Best Day Trip from Whanganui for Luxury Travellers
Travel time by car: 1 hour one-way
Spend a day at the beach, either at Foxton Beach or the neighbouring Himatangi Beach. Foxton has a few additional attractions to offer to make more of a day of it, like kite sports lessons with Wind Warrior and wakeboarding at Off the Loop Wake Park. Check out Foxton’s windmill in the town centre and treat yourself to some fish and chips from Mr Grumpy’s.
Head to the 5 Fun Things to Do in Foxton for more activities on this day trip from Whanganui.