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Art & Heritage

Whanganui Waimarie Centre and River Cruise

  • 2 minutes

North Island, New Zealand


Listen to river tales while you gently cruise your way up the river on a historic riverboat.



Pick the 11.00 am sailing and hopefully you will be part of the release of homing pigeons with your message attached to their feet.

Wanganui River paddle-steamer Waimarie in dock, used for tourist cruises up river, Wanganui, New Zealand
Wanganui River paddle-steamer Waimarie in dock, used for tourist cruises up river, Wanganui


A must-go destination for anyone interested in the story of the WHANGANUI RIVER. Plenty of memorabilia, lots of gnarly knotted ropes for tying riverboats to wharves and a replica river boat to ponder over. The small museum is packed with details such as photographs, stories of sailors and individual boats and their journeys.

A labour of love, care and sense of common purpose was the hallmark of ‘Project Waimarie’, The restoration of a riverboat that had spent over 50 years on the bottom of the river was a tremendous undertaking The Waimarie original design and manufacturing methods were followed as closely as possible, though the restored vessel complies with all modern safety standards.  The Waimarie riverboat has now refurbished covered and open sun decks, two saloons, two toilets and a galley.

Her original engines have been reconditioned and are still in use today. All the hull plates were cold riveted – with approximately 40,000 rivets. Visitors are invited to witness the labour intensive work of shovelling coal into the belly of the fire stoking the massive pistons driving the paddlesteamer’s wheels.

The Paddle Steamer Waimarie is a not-for-profit organisation and is operated by the Waimarie Operating Trust whose role is to ensure it operates as a financially sustainable, highly regarded premier experience.

Waimarie, `The Happy Ferry`, a passenger ferry between the tourist towns of Russell and Paihia in the Bay of Islands, alongside the Paihia wharf. Paihia, New Zealand
Waimarie, `The Happy Ferry`, a passenger ferry between the tourist towns of Russell and Paihia in the Bay of Islands, alongside the Paihia wharf

The Whanganui Riverboat Restoration & Navigation Trust Board works alongside the Waimarie Operating Trust Board to maintain the condition of the Paddle Steamer Waimarie  – overseeing all of its regular maintenance requirements.

You will be greeted by a dedicated team of staff and crew (both employees and volunteers) at our Riverboat Centre and aboard our Paddle Steamer Waimarie – all who go above and beyond to ensure your experience is one to remember.

Waimarie Riverboat Museum, Whanganui, North Island, NZ must-go attraction, New Zealand
Waimarie Riverboat Museum, Whanganui, North Island, NZ

Historical building

The Riverboat Centre and Riverboat Museum is located within a turn of the century building that originally operated as a rowing facility.

It is among one of the first architecturally designed rowing centres in New Zealand. You can still see the original W.R.C wooden letters, short for Whanganui Rowing Club, above the front door at the entrance to the building.

The building was restored by community volunteers and turned into a wonderful workshop for the restoration of the Paddle Steamer Waimarie in the late 90’s and later became the Riverboat Centre and Riverboat Museum.

We have a small range of souvenirs which can be purchased from the booking office.

Residence of our pigeons

The Riverboat Centre is also the residence of our two homing pigeons, Alexander and Baxter.

Alexander and Baxter join passengers on every Cruising at 11. They are our Pigeon Post and are carried up the Whanganui River where passengers are invited to handwrite a personal message which our crew insert into canisters which are attached to the pigeons’ legs before releasing them.

Being the well trained pigeons they are – they fly back to their loft at the Riverboat Centre where after the cruise the authors can see their messages have arrived safely.

The Pigeon Post gives our passengers a unique experience and insight into how homing pigeons were used for long distance communication on the river back when the riverboats operated.

The historic Waimarie Paddle Steamer docked on the Wanganui river, New Zealand
The historic Waimarie Paddle Steamer docked on the Wanganui river

Waimarie riverboat cruise is part of the culture and heritage trails of Whanganui and is an opportunity to explore the Whanganui river with a leisurely cruise.



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