Whanganui is an urban area and district on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand. It is part of the Manawatu-Whanganui region. It is situated 200 kilometres north of Wellington and 75 kilometres northwest of Palmerston North and rests on the banks of the Whanganui River.

Whanganui is notorious for its Maori culture and heritage with locations such as: the famous Whanganui River and Whanganui National Park. Whanganui River is New Zealand's third longest river at the length of 290 km it was established in 1986. Whanganui National Park covers an area of 742 kmĀ² and borders the Whanganui River.

In the early 1900's, visitors knew the Whanganui River as the 'Rhine of New Zealand'; the longest passable river in the country, with 239 rapids, dramatic bush scenery , a place of serenity and unique beauty.

Due to its rather unique physical location it is sheltered from the worst weather conditions. Whanganui has a pleasant climate with more than 2000 hours of bright sunshine per year and relatively few extremes compared with many other New Zealand centres.

Whanganui History

The Whanganui district was first settled by Maori, who were attracted by the Whanganui River in its sheltered fertile valley with a copious food supply. Kupe, the legendary discoverer of New Zealand, is given the recognition for finding the Whanganui River, though it was Tamatea, Captain of the Takitimu Canoe, who was the first to fully explore the region.

Early settlement came soon after, by the descendants of the Aotea Canoe. The area around the mouth of the Whanganui River was a major site of pre-European settlement. When the city of Wellington was established Whanganui became an important centre of trade. With the increased number of European settlers arriving in the country, it became a logical site for the place of a new town. Around 1840 the New Zealand Company began settlement in the area. By 1860 a population of approximately 2000 had settled in Whanganui.

Main Towns in the Whanganui Region

Other Towns in the Whanganui Region