A couple of kilometres northwest of the centre, Virginia Lake is the perfect place for a stroll (around the lake or the woodland walk). Aside from the ducks, there's an aviary with cheeky cockatoos (9am to 4pm), the Winter Gardens (9am to 5pm), a sculpture garden, a playground and a cafe.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby attractions

1. Ward Observatory

1.56 MILES

Established in 1903, astro-geeks will be delighted to know that this 24cm telescope is the largest unmodified refractor operating in NZ. Roll up on Friday…

2. Whanganui Regional Museum

1.59 MILES

Spend an hour or two in one of NZ’s better natural history museums. Te Atihaunui-a-Pāpārange Māori exhibits include an amazing waka (canoe), …

3. New Zealand Glassworks


The pick of Whanganui's many glass studios. Watch glass-blowers working, check out the gallery, take a one-day glass-blowing course ($290, four people max…

4. Whanganui Riverboat Centre

1.85 MILES

The historical displays here are interesting, but everyone's here for the PS Waimarie, the last of the Whanganui River paddle steamers. In 1900 it was…

5. Sarjeant on the Quay

1.85 MILES

The elegant old neoclassical Sarjeant Gallery building in Queens Park is closed for earthquake-proofing. In the interim, the gallery's estimable art…

6. Durie Hill Elevator

2.03 MILES

Across City Bridge from downtown Whanganui, this elevator was built with grand visions for Durie Hill’s residential future. Beyond an entrance lined with…

7. Lift Machinery Housing Lookout

2.15 MILES

High on Durie Hill atop the machinery housing for the Durie Hill Elevator, there's a lookout platform from where the city views are eye-popping. Climb the…

8. War Memorial Tower

2.19 MILES

Ride the ratchety old Durie Hill Elevator up to the top of Durie Hill, then keep climbing skywards up the austere War Memorial Tower. It's 176 steps and…