10 Must-Do Walks in Whanganui
Whanganui walks you can’t miss!
One of the best ways to explore the stunning landscapes, iconic landmarks and a city is by tying up your shoelaces and going for a walk! In Whanganui, that’s no exception! We’ve put this list together of some of the best walks in Whanganui. There are walks to suit all interests and fitness, whether you want to get great views of the city or delve into a longer bush walk!
In between hitting the walking tracks in Whanganui, check out these 10 Free or Cheap Things to Do in Whanganui and save on the cents by staying in one of the 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Whanganui. For more information on how to make the most out of the city, see our Wanganui – Guide for Backpackers.
1. Durie Hill Tower Walk (20 minutes one way)
Whanganui city’s most iconic building is worth walking to for the full experience. Either walk through the 213m Durie Hill Tunnel and take the Durie Hill Elevator (costs around NZ$2 per adult – cash only) or walk up the 193 steps from the bottom of Durie Hill to the top! Once at the Durie Hill Tower, take the 176 spiral staircase all the way to the top for awesome views of the city, Whanganui River and even all the way to Mt Ruapehu!
Location: Either start from the Whanganui i-SITE across the City Bridge or start from Putiki Drive where you can park your vehicle.
2. Waitahinga Trails (10 minutes – 5 hours return)
Escape to nature at the Waitahinga Trails, around 35km from Whanganui. This no-longer-used water catchment reserve has been reclaimed by the native forest, making for some pleasant bush walks! Choose from the Picnic Dell walk (10 minutes from the car park), The Chicken Run (1 hour return), Cropper’s Clearing (1h30min return) or Waitahinga Dam (4-5 hours return).
Location: From Whanganui, take State Highway 3 to Kai Iwi then turn onto Rangitatau East Road and travel for 20km, then turn onto Junction Road. Park at the Quarry Road Car Park.
3. Westmere Walkway (40 minutes – 2 hours return)
Explore rural Whanganui on the Westmere Walkway – a collection of walks crossing farmland in the Matipo Park Reserve. Choose fro the Restawhile Lookout (40 minutes return), Top Flats and Jeanie Lynas Reid Reserve (2 hours return), Matipo Park Lower Route (1 hour return), and Matipo Park via Top Flats (2 hours return).
Location: Access is via Kelvin Street or Brunswick Road.
4. Round the Bridges Whanganui (40 minutes to 2 hours loop)
The beautiful Whanganui River is the iconic landmark of the whole region, so a walk or bike ride alongside the river is a must! There are several bridges crossing the Whanganui River in Whanganui city, with walkways/cycleways on both sides, making for some easy loop walks to take in the river, parks, trees and sculptures. Popular circuits include the Cobham (SH3) – Whanganui City Bridge (30 minutes loop), Whanganui City – Dublin Street Bridge (45 minutes loop), Dubline Street – Railway Bridge (30 minutes loop, and Cobham – Whanganui – Dublin Street Bridge (2 hours loop). For more places to hop on your bike, check out our 6 Best Cycle Trails in Whanganui.
Location: Start from either Anzac Parade, Somme Parade, Putiki Drive or Taupo Quay.
5. Virginia Lake / Rotokawau (20 minutes to 1 hour loop)
This fantastic city park is one of the best in the Whanganui, with a central lake surrounded by bush walks and walkways to gardens, sculptures and heaps of birdlife! There’s the popular 2km track (about 20 minutes loop) circumventing the lake, or try the 6km lower track taking you to a deer park and surrounding reserves.
Location: Great North Road, State Highway 3.
6. Kai Iwi Beach to Castlecliff Beach (2-3 hours one way)
Follow the stunning rugged coastline of Kai Iwi Beach at low tide and make your way to Castlcliff Beach. The walk is approximately 12km. Alternatively, head in the opposite direction to walk from Kai Iwi Beach to Okehu Stream, again at low tide taking 2 hours. Visiting the beach is one of our top things to do in Whanganui!
Location: 14km west of Whanganui at the end of Rapanui Road.
7. Westmere Lake Wildlife Reserve (30 minutes loop)
This 30-minute loop walk is a great place to spot wild water fowl and native birds in their natural habitat. The entrance to walk has a map and is well signposted.
Location: Take State Highway 3 north and turn onto Rapanui Road. Follow the road for about 0.7km until you see the reserve signposted.
8. Atene Skyline Walk (6-8 hours return)
For epic views from the Whanganui River Road stop by the tramping track called the Atene Skyline Walk. It rises to a height of 523m above sea level with one of the highlights of the view being the “meander” where the river almost formed a complete circle and now cuts straight through. There is a shorter walking option called the Atene Viewpoint Walk (1-2 hours return) also starting from the same place.
Location: About 35km up the Whanganui River Road, just past Atene. Parking is on the side of the road.
9. Bushy Park Homestead & Sanctuary (40 minutes loop)
Walk on the 3.4km worth of tracks to discover this predator-free native bird sanctuary set among lowland forest. Keep an eye out for a multitude of birds, such as the wood pigeon, bellbirds, North Island robin, saddlebacks, stitchbirds and more! Note that entry is around NZ$10 per adult.
Location: 25km from Whanganui. Take State Highway 3 north and turn down Rangitautau East Road.
10. Bason Botanic Gardens (10-30 minutes loop)
There are a number of short walking trails all well connected, so you can spend as much or as little time walking in the Bason Botanic Gardens. There’s also a permanent orienteering course where you can buy maps at the Whanganui i-SITE or Westmere Garage (or just see how many posts you can find without a map). Check out the lake, gardens and more in this beautiful part of Whanganui!
Location: 11km from Whanganui. Take State Highway 3 north and turn onto Rapanui Road.
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