The town of Wanganui is a bit of an oddity, name wise. It has two different spellings, both of which are recognized, but one can cause quite a bit of confusion. Often the city will be spelt ‘Whanganui’, which, if following the common Maori pronunciation for words, would make it sound like ‘Fanganui’. But in this case, it is pronounced ‘Wanganui’ (or ‘W’anganui’, the official pronunciation given by the local Maori). The written name has been shifted back and forth by the government (locals voted to keep ‘Wanganui’), and now both are considered correct (the pronunciation hasn’t changed). It’s all very confusing, the history on it.
(For my purposes, I’ll use Wanganui to designate the town and Whanganui for the river and park).
What isn’t confusing is the town itself. The Whanganui River is the prominent feature of the city, cutting a swath beside the downtown on it’s journey to the ocean. The river is the third longest in New Zealand, and starts up near Lake Taupo. It also so happened that my hostel was situated right along the river.
Across from the downtown sits a bit of an oddity – an elevator built into a hill. It is the only underground elevator publicly accessible in New Zealand. Having been on subways before, to me, it’s not exactly my first time on one such contraption.
But I went along for the ride anyways. Even the tunnel reminded me of a subway! The elevator was pretty amusing, it even has someone always on staff to direct it!
From the elevator you can climb on top of the building and get a good perspective of the city of Wanganui. There, the Whanganui river heads towards the open ocean.
Upstream, heading back inland.
And the downtown district of Wanganui itself. The downtown was nicely laid out and easy to wander around.
Behind the elevator was another tower.
And since it was free to climb, I did just that! Some 180 steps to the top gives an even better view! You can see the elevator at the bottom of the picture, in the middle.
This was also one of the few times in New Zealand that I’d seen a lot of safety type equipment. Sure, there are guardrails and such in many spots, but you are caged in at the top of this spot!
The next day, I’d be off to explore the river that the town of Wanganui derives it’s name from, along the Whanganui River Road.