There are a couple of interesting towns in the Wanganui surrounding areas.
Whanganui National Park
Whanganui National Park, which extends on both banks of the Whanganui River from its mouth at Wanganui to Taumarunui, was established in 1987. It is planned to develop Pipiriki as the headquarters of the park.
Address: Ingestre Chambers, 74 Ingestre Street, New Zealand
The Whanganui River (290km) rises on the western slopes of Mount Tongariro, flows through Taumarunui and then through almost impenetrable forest country, via Pipiriki and Wanganui, into the Tasman Sea. The country through which it flows is for the most part hilly and densely wooded. Below Pipiriki the river is tame enough but higher up there are rapids, waterfalls and narrow gorges. The Whanganui River Road is narrow but runs through a riverine landscape of great beauty.Although passenger and freight traffic on the Whanganui River was discontinued in 1958 as uneconomic, cruises on the river are now again available to meet the increasing demands of the tourist trade. There is, for example, a 5 day cruise from Taumarunui to Wanganui (October to March). From Wanganui, Pipiriki and Taumarunui there are jet-boat trips, and in summer visitors can paddle down the river in a canoe from Taumarunui to Wanganui at its mouth, a distance of 232km.The most beautiful stretches of the river can be reached only on foot. There are a number of trails that take walkers to particularly attractive spots on the river
Ratana, New Zealand
23km southeast of Wanganui is the Maori village of Ratana (pop. 500), which gave its name to a religious movement. This had great influence on the revival of Maori consciousness and still has many adherents throughout the country. The handsome twin-towered church was built in 1927. Beside the church is a small museum devoted to Wiremu Ratana (1870-1939), founder of the Ratana sect, who had a great reputation as a healer. In the large meeting house are models of the seven Maori ancestral canoes, Abel Tasman's Heemskerck and Cook's Endeavor. Ratana's birthday is celebrated annually on January 25th as a popular festival.
Waverley, New Zealand
50km northwest of Wanganui is Waverley (pop. 1,600), near which are ancient rock drawings (difficult to access).