1. Article Café
Bohemian, creative and cool, Article café has made its home in the corner building that was once upon a time the offices for the Whanganui Chronicle – New Zealand’s oldest newspaper. Filing and type trays still reside in the foyer, relics from the former occupants. More than a cafe, Article is a little bit of all sorts of interesting things, including art gallery, haberdashery, craft circle, record store, vintage clothing boutique and toy shop. Established by Jack Mitchell-Anyon, (his father owns the building), Article is a bustling hub for Whanganui’s young and creatively astute. The Devil’s Cup coffee is excellent - served in mismatched crockery with a side of souvenir teaspoon - and you can accompany it with a little bit of something sweet and some new friends at the large communal table.
2. The Citadel
The Citadel in Castlecliff is a popular spot for weekend brunches, evening burgers and great coffee any time of day. Set in an unimposing block of shops on the road to Castlecliff Beach, this colourful café makes a point of giving back to the community with a ‘pay it forward scheme.’ A sign behind the counter encourages diners to add a little extra to their bill – but no pressure! – to help out local families in need. While you’re there, pop across the road and check out Vostinar Gallery – home to the works of local ceramicist and painter Ivan Vostinar. You would’ve sipped your flat white out of one of his handcrafted mugs at The Citadel and his gallery is full of colourful and curvaceous designs.
3. Rutland Arms Inn
Visit Rutland Arms for classic pub fare with a side of conviviality. Always busy, for good reason, the Rutland Arms has an all-day menu, generous helpings and an impressive array of beers on tap. Grab a seat in one of the booths and peruse the historic photographs of Whanganui back in the day. The Rutland Arms has been a feature of this urban landscape from the beginning. Originally built in 1847, the inn has burnt down twice since then – once on Christmas Day – but has been lovingly restored in the traditional style. If you can’t bear to leave, there are a handful of boutique rooms upstairs so you can enjoy a hearty breakfast too.
The Rutland Arms Inn is a grand old girl, and a real survivor. Built in 1847 when Whanganui was a garrison town, she quenched the thirst of British Regiments stationed here. She has suffered four major fires - including one in 1868 which burnt her to the ground. Each time she has risen from the ashes and is still standing today. Be sure to pop in for a bevvy and check out the historic photos when you #visitwhanganui ! #whanganui #newzealand #wanganui #northisland #travelnz #visitnewzealand #newzealandbeauty #whanganuiriver #nzmustdo #kiwi_photos #kiwipics #travelgram #lonelyplanet #nz #mustdonz #purenewzealand #aotearoa #history #heritage #blackandwhite #inn
4. George’s Fisheries
If fish and chips are classic-Kiwi fare, then dining at George’s Fisheries in Whanganui is possibly the pinnacle of Kiwiana. Think formica tables, fluorescent lighting and chrome and red vinyl chairs. It’d be a shame to take your ultra-fresh and crispy fish and chips away when you can dine in, in such an iconic setting. Alongside deep fried deliciousness, George’s also has an enticing wet fish counter window display, with the catch of the day on ice. Pick your fillet for the fryer, or take home dinner in a paper-wrapped package. Like I say, classic.
5. Go east
You’ll be spoilt for sushi in Whanganui, as the centre of town has not one but two great contemporary Japanese restaurants. Japanese Kitchen WA is tucked down a covered alley off the main street, Victoria Ave. Alfresco tables are cosy year-round with outdoor heaters and indoors, the restaurant is decorated with cheery cherry blossom murals and bright kimonos. The generous serving of broccoli with classic sesame dressing is recommended. Nearby on Victoria Ave, the ever-popular Momiji relocated from its original site to a bigger space in one of Whanganui’s many heritage buildings. Grab lunch in a black lacquered bento box, with a delicious umami miso and hot coffee to see you on your way afterwards.