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Best 8 short walks in Whanganui

  • 4 minutes

Whanganui, North Island

Where to go and what to see

Whanganui is a walkers destination with the iconic Bridge to Nowhere a short jet boat ride away, a viewpoint where you catch the DURIE HILL TUNNEL elevator and parks to picnic and walk around lakes.


Whanganaui memorial tower, Whanganui, North Island, New Zealand, Pacific
Whanganaui memorial tower

Where else can you catch a lift (elevator) to the top of a hill? Minimum walking required. Durie Hill Tower Walk is a must-go destination for its unusual transport option and the great views of the town.


The Durie Hill tunnel has its own Instagram account

Durie Hill Elevator (@duriehillelevator) • Instagram photos and videos

Durie Hill Tower Walk access options

  • Walk through a 213 metre tunnel and catch the Durie Hill Elevator (fees apply, Eftpos available)
  • Walk 193 steps from the bottom of the Durie Hill to the top
  • From the elevator upper entrance there are an additional 176 steps on a spiral staircase to the topmost viewing platform.
  • Start: Putiki Drive carpark

The local Council own and manage the site with the facilities open every day, except Christmas Day. Check Durie Hill Tunnel.

… learn more Durie Hill Tunnel & Walk.

  1. Blyth Street Reserve

You really want to get the utmost top of DURIE HILL. Blyth Street Reserve is a small grassed area with a park bench on Blyth Street at the top of Durie Hill. To reach the reserve area, walk up the Durie Hill steps or take the historic Durie Hill Elevator. Once at the top, you will have sweeping views of the river and city. Toilets and a picnic table are nearby.


On a sparkling day you can view everything from the Central North Island Mt Ruapehu, Mt Taranaki and panoramic views of the town, the harbour, the massive surge of the Whanganui River estuary as it floods into the sea. Take a few moments and relax into the scenery on the park bench.

  1. Round the Bridges Whanganui

The Whanganui River defines the town and the countrywise. There are several river bridge crossings including the historic Dublin St bridge (over 100 years old). There are shared pathways for both cyclists and walkers with riverside parks, sculptures and shady trees creating an attractive loop.

Check Whanganui Council brochure (travel pack section) for details.

Canoe safaris, Whanganui river trips, New Zealand
Canoe safaris, Whanganui river trips

Dublin St bridge originally cost $75,000 and took two-and-a-half years to build and contains 1000 tonnes of steel, and 30 tonnes of rivets. The narrow bridge was designed for horse and carts and trams … now is well known for causing traffic jams.  Walk across the historic bridge instead.

View across Lake Virginia to people on path around lake, Whanganui New Zealand
View across Lake Virginia
  1. Virginia Lake / Rotokawau

A beautiful city park with bush walks around a lake. The park has sculptures, play areas and quiet walkways. Popular local stroll is the 2 km loop around the lake. For kids there are numerous water birds, swans and ducks.


Carry frozen peas for snacks for the birds.

  1. Bason Botanic Gardens

Short flat walking trails in the botanic gardens. There is a permanent orientation course (purchase maps from the Whanganui visitor centre). It is a tranquil oasis of plants, flowers and plenty of park seats for an impromptu picnic.

This track will take you around the Rotokawau / Virginia Lake located in Whanganui. It’s a short and peaceful stroll if you aren’t looking for anything too intense. Bring a book with you, plenty of places to sit down.  Lots of ducks, pukekos, swans, and other special guests. Picnic tables, BBQ, toilets, and drinking fountains are located in the area as well.

Bason Botanic Gardens, Wanganui, New Zealand
Bason Botanic Gardens, Wanganui
  1. Gordon Park Loop Track

The Gordon Park Loop Track is an impossibly easy (0.5 km) flat walk with plentiful varieties of New Zealand native trees from tōtara, matai, tawa, titoki, kowhai, and kahikatea. Listen for the rich birdlife with native fantails flirting at your feet. The small park is well signposted with directions and what to see and do.


A great walk for buggies, strollers and wheelchairs. There is a car park and picnic / toilet facilities.

Kai Iwi Beach, iron sands, cliffs, rock pools, wild west coast, Whanganui North Island, NZ
Kai Iwi Beach, Whanganui, NZ
  1. Kai Iwi beach to Okehu stream

The magnificent cliff faces are a favourite sunset location with a relatively short 4 km walk. This walk is dependent on the tides. For further information check brochure (11).  The walk is a remote area of New Zealand with the driftwood strewn coast, the cliffs and uncrowded beach creating a moody atmosphere.


  1. Atene viewpoint walk

A short walk to the viewpoint with the option of continuing the hike onto the ATENE SKYLINE TRACK.

The short walk passes through native regenerating bush, farmland and a historic roadway. The viewpoint track ends on a black beech ridge with great views of Whanganui National Park and the cutoff meander of the old Whanganui River bed. There are stiles to get over fences, a toilet on the walk and, at the end, a seat and viewing area to stop for a rest and bite to eat before walking back down. A picnic table just 20 minutes in gives spectacular views of the Whanganui River. It takes about an hour to get to the viewpoint, but less to come down. People wanting a longer day or overnight walk can continue past the viewpoint on the Atene Skyline Track. Check DOC resource for up to date information.

Just 40 minutes drive from Whanganui this is a great walk for families to a viewpoint over Whanganui National Park – there is a picnic table 20 minutes from the start with spectacular views of the Whanganui River.

Check the travel pack section for ATENE WALK BROCHURE.

Atene Viewpoint Walk @DOC / Saskia Bloot
Atene Viewpoint Walk @DOC / Saskia Bloot

Travel pack section

Check out articles on DURIE HILL TUNNEL & WALK, WHANGANUI TRAVEL GUIDE AND BRIDGE TO NOWHERE for holiday inspiration.


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