12 Hours Whanganui
A wonderfully quiet place, Whanganui’s charm is in the pretty streets where there’s no rush to find a park or feel frazzled by traffic. There’s no need to drive far here anyway, so join the locals sipping coffee on street corners, and find some of the most acclaimed art in the country at the numerous galleries.
A creative way of thinking comes second nature to a town with such a high number of artists. So sit back, relax, take off your watch, and take your time enjoying this little slice of riverside paradise.
There’s no use exploring on an empty stomach, so first things first, make your way into town to remedy that.
Mischief on Guyton
96 Guyton Street, Whanganui
A must-visit in Whanganui for breakfast, Mischief Café has been a hot favourite in the town for many years. ‘Bene true story’ is an easy choice. Arriving on a potato rosti, the meal is one of four gluten-free options on the chalkboard menu. Vegans are looked after here, too with the ‘vegomania’ - an epic mix of spinach, pumpkin, beets, hummus, and cashew nut salsa. Take your pick from all the usuals on the hot drink menu (they use Karamu coffee), or mix it up with Good Buzz kombucha and Allganics juices in the fridge.
Space Studio & Gallery
18 Street Hill Street, Whanganui
Mid-morning means time for a wander round, and lucky for wanderers, Whanganui streets hold some top-market galleries worth checking out. The ethos at Space Gallery is on supporting up-and-coming artists alongside those who have been in the trade a bit longer, and frequent group shows mean there’s always an eclectic mix of things to look at and marvel over.
64A Taupo Quay, Whanganui
Right next door you’ll find yourself in a thrift shop haven at Quayside Antiques, where every nook and cranny is taken up by some sort of knick knack from days past. In classic antique store fashion and charm, there’s a sense of ordered chaos, and it's lucky you’ve got time to spare because it could be hours before you can truthfully say you’ve looked at everything.
Quartz Museum of Studio Ceramics
8 Bates Street, Whanganui
Nicknamed the ‘teapot man’ because of his quirky takes on the tea pouring device, there’s no denying Rick Rudd lives and breathes ceramic art. He's highly regarded for his skillset throughout New Zealand and you can see for yourself at his own studio. He's often found at work, surrounded by the colour and curiosity that is some of New Zealand’s best ceramic art.
Not that you’re getting sick of the city centre, but there’s just more to experience a little further afield. Make the most of midday and head out to Castlecliff for further great food and art.
Lunch at The Citadel
14 Rangiora Street, Castlecliff, Whanganui
It’s important to remember lunch is a very essential part of the day, and what better excuse to drive a little out of town than to visit The Citadel, a playful, bright, and welcoming café and restaurant that serves up the best burgers and loaded fries. The place feels fresh, clean, young, and full of good vibes, and an epic kid’s playground in the outdoor area means even small humans will grow to love this place.
7 Rangiora Street, Castlecliff, Whanganui
Just across the street you’ll find community spirit in full force. Vostinar Gallery is a beautiful display of one man’s love of shape and form, where (a painter as well as a ceramic artist) Ivan Vostinar has filled his bright, airy space with collections from years of hard work, and if things look a little familiar, that’s because you’ve probably just had your coffee at The Citadel out of one of his handmade mugs.
A slower-paced time of day, it’s lucky we’ve got activities to keep you moving. When you feel like all you’ve done is eat, then you’ll be pleased to hear there’s plenty of wandering in this afternoon plan.
Bason Botanic Garden
552 Rapanui Road, Westmere
Just a ten-minute drive up the road from Vostinar Gallery you can find yourself lost in a green paradise known as the Bason Botanic Gardens. Since 1966, visitors have come to kick a ball, read a book, have a picnic, and enjoy the quiet beauty of Whanganui’s much loved leafy gem.
Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui
38 Taupo Quay, Whanganui
Another gallery worth its salt in this creative town is Sargeant Gallery. So named after the early colonial settler Henry Sarjeant who thought it very important that Whanganui have its own place to house significant artworks. He really was on to a good thing - with nearly 8,000 works in its collection, spanning four centuries, this gallery is a hot spot for tourists and locals alike for a koha entry.
It may be a fairly peaceful town by day, but come evening there’s no shortage of people who love a good gig where the music is loud and bass is a’thumping. Stay up past bedtime and have a jig instead.
92 Victoria Avenue, Whanganui
After all that gazing at artwork, you’ll be ready for a sit-down and a meal.
There’s something special about eating al fresco, and Japanese Kitchen has well and truly succeeded in turning its little corner of Victoria Ave into a dynamic dining experience, with long tables and outdoor heating making dining comfortable even on cooler nights.
The menus are a piece of art on their own, with detailed and colourful photos of each meal leaving the guesswork out of what to expect at your table, while the gracious and gentle staff consistently stop by to make sure the food is okay. You are also told on many occasions to ‘take your time’, a nice touch in the hospitality industry when it can sometimes feel as if you’re just part of an eating/drinking machine.
Beer, wine and the Japanese staple sake are all on offer, alongside specialty fizzy drinks from the faraway country - try ‘ramune’ a Japanese version of lemonade that comes with a ‘how to operate’ lesson from the waiter.
Staying for the weekend?
If you’re a clever cookie and you’ve timed it right, then a weekend in Whanganui is well worth staying for. Some town gems only open doors at the end of the week, so if you’re wanting to experience it all, we suggest you stick around.
Whanganui River Markets
7 Taupo Quay, Whanganui
Come the start of the weekend, you can find over 100 stalls and as many cheerful stallholders who arrive every Saturday at the crack of dawn to set up shop and display their bestest brightest produce or wares at the Whanganui River Markets. Cheery buskers keep spirits high while you wander the aisles, with everything from paintings to pizza for sale.
20 Drews Avenue, Whanganui
If the market alone is not enough to tempt you into staying the weekend in Whanganui, then allow Article to do that for you instead. Housed in the building that was previously home to The Whanganui Chronicle, nowadays it’s a café, gallery, and shop where you can pick up a piece of vintage clothing or new artwork whilst waiting on your mochaccino.
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