Whanganui (Manawatu-Wanganui, New Zealand)

A sliver of sunshine filters through the clouds. It seems almost surreal after the rain and cyclonic weather that has been floating around.

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We head up to the Whanganui River Road. We’ve heard it’s beautiful and the river is the town’s biggest draw card. The tip was true and the Whanganui River Road is a classic drive. Mind you, we don’t get far before a landslide blocks our path. More experienced locals or people driving 4WDs would get through. But I don’t want to be that tourist who took the wrong risk. So we turn around.

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This isn’t a bad thing though because Whanganui has so much to offer. The Bason Gardens were created as a labour of love by a local many years ago. It’s now a large botanical garden where families are taking picnics. We sit a while in a picturesque gazebo before exploring the conservatory and house garden. This is a place to take your kids to run, play and instill a love of plants.

We follow the road down to the windswept black sand coast with it’s ever present tsunami warning signs. There’s no surfers today for the sea is brown with run off from the flooded rivers. However, there are two local men on quad bikes collecting drift wood.
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We drive back to Whanganui along country roads. We have no need to rush. We take a short walk along the beach at Castlecliff where the Whanganui River meets the sea. Green grasses blown in the increasingly strong winds. A long brown line extends across the sea about 400m  (1/4 mile) from the river mouth. Waves crash oddly where the force of the muddy river water meets the blue storm churned sea.

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Returning to Dolphin Townhouse we relax for an hour before driving to the local movie cinema. It’s cute on the outside and still in 1960s style inside. We watch Beauty and the Beast. The picture and sound quality are surprisingly good. A vocal old drunk storms out partway through the second song complaining that “there’s too much singing blergh”. Everyone giggles and settles in without his muttering. Children run around behind us, making stomping noises throughout the entire movie but that’s what little boys do when they watch a movie chosen by their sister.

And so ends our day in Whanganui.