The Luxury Guide to Whanganui©
The Luxury Guide to Whanganui

The Luxury Travel Guide to Whanganui

Article Single Pages©
Article Single Pages©
NZ Pocket Guide is 10 years old. Thank you for trusting us with your trip for over a decade!

Plan a Premium Trip to Whanganui

On the banks of one of New Zealand’s most significant rivers, so significant that it’s a legal entity, Whanganui is certainly a place of intrigue. While the relaxed ambience of the small city doesn’t exactly scream “luxury”, Whanganui is more of a place for discerning travellers to experience the river to its fullest, learn its history and meet its people. In between river adventures, travellers can indulge in the creative coffee shops in town, stay in well-presented hotels or luxury historic homesteads among a wildlife sanctuary. Whanganui certainly provides something unique.

Plan your experiences, as well as where to dine and where to stay in this luxury travel guide to Whanganui city.

Luxury Activities in Whanganui

  • Enjoy a premium Maori canoe journey on the Whanganui River
  • Browse historic and contemporary art at the Sarjeant Gallery
  • Sail on a historic paddle steamer on the Whanganui River
  • Do a guided sightseeing tour along the Whanganui River Road
  • Make your own glass paperweight at New Zealand Glassworks
  • Do a horse trek at South Beach or Castlecliff Beach
  • Indulge in Whanganui’s cuisine.

For elaboration on each activity, see the 8 Luxury Activities in Whanganui.

The Luxury Guide to Whanganui© Visit Ruapehu

Luxury Adventure Activities

When it comes to luxury adventures in Whanganui, forget about anything too lavish. But if you find luxury in guided cultural tours and being looked after by friendly locals who are eager to show you their home and share their cuisine with you, then there’s something for you in Whanganui.

Obviously, a highlight of Whanganui is the historic Whanganui River, which holds an array of stories and culture along its river 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 and 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.

Experience the Whanganui River in an alternative way 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. If you don’t know what you want to see, why not join them for their Mail Run tour, taking you on a relaxing journey in their air-conditioned minibus to remote parts of the Whanganui River to deliver mail?

If you have less time in Whanganui, but still want to experience the famous Whanganui River, then book onto the Waimarie river cruise, the only coal-fired paddle steamer in New Zealand. 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 tour has the unique aspect of releasing homing pigeons to fly your personal message back to the Riverboat Centre.

For more premium tours, check out the 8 Luxury Activities in Whanganui.

The Luxury Guide to Whanganui©

All-weather Luxury Activities

When it comes to indoor attractions, for those days when the weather doesn’t play ball, Whanganui’s top choice for discerning travellers is its array of art galleries and experiences. One of the highlights is New Zealand Glassworks, which is the national centre for glassblowing. Browse a stunning array of glass art in their gallery and even give glassblowing a go yourself 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.

Displaying an array of art from as early as the 1840s to the present day, the Sarjeant Gallery is one of the most significant in New Zealand. First opened in 1919, the Sarjeant 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.

For more inspiration for rainy day activities, see the 10 Things to Do in Whanganui on a Rainy Day.

The Luxury Guide to Whanganui© Pixabay

Fine Dining in Whanganui

In tune with riverside city’s relaxing 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.

Whanganui interestingly has some of the most memorable Japanese food in New Zealand, starting with MOMIJI (26 Victoria Avenue). 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, the bustling Japanese Kitchen WA (92 Victoria Avenue) is also worth booking a table for at this busy alfresco venue with outside heaters.

For something more “Kiwi”, venture to Castlecliff Beach to find The Citadel (14 Rangiora Street) where craft beers and gourmet burgers are their specialities.

And something Whanganui does extremely well is creative cafes, such as Article (20 Drews Avenue) serving coffee in vintage teacups with retro art and decor to admire. Ambrosia Delicatessen & La Bolsa Negra (63a Ridgway Street) boasts a European cafe and deli foods from all around the world.

More About Whanganui

That’s it for the luxury travel guide to Whanganui. Find even more tips to make your luxury getaway exceptional in The Luxury Travel Guide to New Zealand.


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Laura S.

This article has been reviewed and published by Laura, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Laura is a first-class honours journalism graduate and a travel journalist with expertise in New Zealand and South Pacific tourism for over 10 years. She also runs travel guides for five of the top destinations in the South Pacific and is the co-host of over 250 episodes of the NZ Travel Show on YouTube.

Was this article useful?


Recommended For You