We left Wellington on Sunday 22nd November, kindly driven by Tracy and Rod back to Waikanae to pick up NZAreandare from Marilyn and David’s drive. We’re so grateful to them for caring for her while we were gadding about and socialising.
Our itinerary was then to head to Waitara, north of New Plymouth, to camp with Marilyn and David, as they’d left their house while work was done on their kitchen floor. En route Barry wanted to stop at Whanganui as he’d never visited this town. I’d had the pleasure when tiki-touring around the North Island alone in July 2002. I needed to catch up on work and writing, so we stayed still for a couple of nights. I worked. Barry wandered.
Delightful Durie Hill
Our free camp spot in Whanganui was at the top of a hill by the one-of-a-kind-in-New-Zealand Durie Hill Underground Elevator. From below there’s a 213 metre long tunnel to get to the elevator taking you up to the ‘garden suburb’ at the summit. Built in 1919, the mechanics are truly astounding. Barry loved travelling up it for $2 ($1 for under 16s). The viewing tower at the top gives a breathtaking vista of this delightful city. Barry captured it perfectly:
It was such an impressive place to stay – though admittedly a little busy in the evenings with cars mysteriously coming and going! All completely harmless as far as we could tell; one or two remaining overnight. The nearby toilet was amazingly open 24 hrs. It was spotless, with lights left on throughout the night. How generous is their council to allow this? Just outside the public toilet was even a drinking water fountain. Very thoughtful and kind. On the first night we parked up looking out over the river, but it was on a bit of a slope. So we moved to a flatter position the second night.
Is It Fuh Or Wuh?
Anyone who’s visited New Zealand, will be aware of the Maori language. Here in NZ we have three ‘official’ languages. Maori, English and Sign. I LOVE this fact. A little like Wales where the sign posts and place names are generally shown in Welsh and English, here they’re in Maori and English. Another interesting thing is there’s not a lot of difference in local dialects here, unlike the UK.
Something that can get a little confusing is the ‘w’ or the ‘wh’ sounds. So is it Whanganui or Wanganui? Is it pronounced Wang-an-oo-ee, or Fang-an-oo-ee? Great question! There’s still signs with just a ‘W’ around. Even adjacent to each other (see the image from Barry below).
I found the following explanation:
“You may notice two different spellings of ‘Whanganui’, or ‘Wanganui’. Since the mid-1800s there have been two different spellings in use for the name of our area. The different spellings arose from the way in which local iwi pronounce the word ‘Whanganui’ (the ‘wh’ creating a barely aspirated sound), and the way in which European settlers wrote down the word as they heard it – ‘Wanganui’.
More recently, the name of our district was deemed by the Government to be ‘Whanganui’. This is why you will see the name of our city spelt with and without an H as you travel around. Either way – it is still the same place, Whanganui or Wanganui!”https://www.visitwhanganui.nz – Whanganui & Wanganui
That’s about all I have to say as I didn’t do the town-tour! As you know Barry’s a visual man, so here’s an overview of pictures from his first visit to the wonderful city of Whanganui for your delectation. Check out the Whanganui website links above for more details of this interesting historic city with a friendly and welcoming vibe.