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Whanganui Kai Iwi and Castlecliff beaches things to do

  • 3 minutes


Where to go swimming in the Whanganui river

Whanganui River Mosquito Point swimming spot, Kai Iwi Beach and Castlepoint beach both with well regarded holiday parks and extensive facilities are the places to hang out outdoors in the summer months.


Kai Iwi Beach, Wanganui / Horowhenua

  • Classic Holiday park is where holiday memories are created
  • Mowhanau beach intertidal rock pools
  • Safe estuary swimming in either Mowhanau or Kai Iwi streams
  • Playground with toilets, picnic tables and public BBQ
  • West Coast driftwood strewn beach with plenty to reimagine as your temporary sand castle
  • Lifeguards (volunteers) on duty during peak summer season weekends
  • Windermere Farm is a great place to stop pick your own berries or indulge in a fresh fruit ice cream

Find a local favourite for winter walks along the iron sands and cliffs or relax in summer as families paddle in the estuary and the tantalising scent of BBQ.  The small residential community are fiercely proud of their place in FindaBeach New Zealand. Whanganui Surf Life Saving Club patrol the area on summer weekends and primary school holidays.


The Mowhanau and Kai Iwi streams and prevailing ocean currents form underwater sand bars that run parallel to the beach. There are rips and sudden dips in depth due to the currents and combined with underwater rocks care needs to be taken while swimming.



Consider casting a rod in the Mowhanau or Kai  Iwi streams with the Kai Iwi stream footbridge a sure sign of a great spot with anglers lined up on the turning tide.  Many people attempt to launch small boats off the beach and this gives access to great offshore fishing, but caution must be taken as many boats end up capsizing crossing the bars.

Kai Iwi Beach is reached via Rapanui Road 14kms west of Whanganui. A recent addition to the beachside area is a driftwood seal created by well-known driftwood sculpture artist Jack Marsden Mayer.


On the way to Kai Iwi Beach stop at Windermere Farms (summer months) and go berry picking, indulge in a fresh fruit whipped ice cream or relax in the farm cafe.

Children always are up to pick their own strawberries.


Castlecliff beach, Whanganui

  • Discover a summer local hot spot patrolled by lifeguards,
  • Camp ground,
  • Playground and skate park

This is a black sand beach creating an iron hot surface in the summer. Part of the beach known as North Mole is a favourite spot for surfing. There is a walk along the beach at low tide exploring the cliff faces.


The name reflects 19th century navigators using the characteristic chalk like cliffs as a navigation point to enter the Whanganui river mouth. Pre-European times the area was known as Kokohula after the flax flower that flourished there.

Wreck of the Port Bowen, North Mole Whanganui river mouth

“Improving Whanganui Port is one of the issues under discussion in the current local body elections. The accumulation of silt with every flood event and the difficulty of crossing the sand-bar at the entrance are recurrent problems. The sometimes treacherous Whanganui River mouth has claimed around 25 ships since the1840s, among them the Port Bowen; a steel, twin-screw, 8267-ton steamer.” … read more Wreck of the Port Bowen | whanganuiregionalmuseum.


South Beach, Whanganui

Discover a beach ideal for walking on the wild side where winds buffet the soul and the ocean roars onto the iron sands. South Beach is the haunt of intrepid surfers and surf cast fishing. There are car parks and a short walk to the beach.

Whanganui River, Mosquito Point

Twelve kilometres from the city centre, Mosquito Point is situated alongside the Whanganui River.

Mosquito Point is a great picnic spot, enjoyed for generations with off road parking. The picturesque spot is known for its mosquitoes so pack insect repellent, picnic goodies and enjoy a day on the Whanganui river. There are outdoor tables in the shade. There are compostable toilets nearby.

Does Mosquito Point, Whanganui River swimming location have a swing over the river?

Mosquito Point does have a reinstated swing over the river.

Remember there are no lifeguards at this location. Check for water quality and safety before entering the water.


Ūpokongaro, Whanganui River – Taniwha

ARTICLE Basil Keane, ‘Taniwha – Sharks’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Like many of the important rivers of New Zealand, Whanganui River is closely associated with taniwha. This photograph, taken in 1955, documented a strange phenomenon. The anonymous inscription on the back reads:

On many (?) occasions a large flow of water gushes up from the head of the Wanganui River below the bluff of Buckthaughts Redoubt just past the village of Upokongaro. This phenomenon is accompanied by a loud bubbling noise and small pieces of waterlogged wood and debris are brought to the surface. Few people have ever seen this occurrence and this photograph was taken in 1955 by one of a party of Wellington visitors camping at Mosquito Point.

Such events were often taken as signs that taniwha were present.

Remember to check out Whanganui family friendly attractions and Whanganui travel guide  for tips on the top ten things to do in Whanganui.



For those who prefer freshwater swimming, Horizons Regional Council’s summer swim spot monitoring programme is available to help inform the public about potential health risks. The Safe Swim Spots Map uses a traffic light system where green indicates the safe areas, amber for potential risks and red in areas to be avoided.



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