Wanganui (Whanganui) is one of New Zealand’s oldest European settlements and possibly the country’s most underrated destination. It is a small city of around 40,000 with a lively cultural scene that you would expect in a much larger city. It is also a pretty town with lovely architecture, including some great Art Deco buildings and a nice riverfront promenade that hosts a great Saturday morning market.
There’s not a lot to do in town unless you like visiting glass blowing studios; and let’s face it, that isn’t high on the backpackers’ list of things to do. However Wanganui is a great place to stock up on supplies and make arrangements for the Whanganui River Journey – an epic three to five-day canoe trip on the Whanganui River, which incidentally is probably New Zealand’s most underrated outdoor activity.