Wanganui – a gem of a city

We could have missed it!

Wanganui is very pretty and engaging city, particularly so now with the wonderful display of  flowers in the many hanging baskets lining the main street. Combined with soft green foliage of the trees, the effect is one of beauty and calm. Peak hour is peak minute, cars go at a slower pace, people greet you as you pass them on foot – life goes on at a gentle pace.

Tonight, after dining with friends, we ambled down Victoria Avenue to the car. Getting a park had not been a problem. In fact looking around the empty restaurant, our friends joked about having hired out the restaurant just for us.

Anyway, we were busy snapping pics of anything and everything. While doing so a woman came up to us and asked if we’d seen the entrance to the Rutland Hotel, telling us that we just had to take a picture of it. We were on the other side of the road at the time; it’s highly likely we wouldn’t have crossed over without the prompting. You can see it would have been a real shame, it’s such a fabulous entrance way. The light, the tile work, the brass lettering, the ‘props’ and the perspective…stunning!

And the people here are so welcoming.

This morning when I was out walking I was greeted by everyone I passed. Not just a little nod but an genuinely warm greeting.

Even when I stopped in at the Royal Wanganui Opera House to buy tickets for Wednesday night’s ‘Great Opera Moments 2010’ the woman at the desk, when she heard I was from out-of-town, took the time to tell me to go early in order to get a car park nearby. We left just after 7.00pm for the 7.30 show, arrived at about 7.05 and found there were an abundance of car parks. This is heaven!

In all my years I’ve never done more than pass through Wanganui – I think you do need a reason to stop for a while. I’m so glad that Wanganui UCOL had the forethought to host a summer school, what an inspired idea. Long may it continue…

Wanganui is a gem – it has so much to offer (aside from employment). It has a thriving art community of which the locals are proud and supportive. The there’s Virginia Lake and even though it’s very green at the moment (and a bit smelly from the algae) you can forgive that knowing it’s only temporary. (The locals are very embarrassed by it’s current state!0 It has the Winter Garden with many interesting sculptures dotted around inside and out and the Sarjeant Gallery, one of New Zealand’s best galleries and a truly beautiful art space. It has the river of course…did I mention that? And it has beaches – not that I’ve had one free minute to visit them.

And apparently, residents in Wanganui have genuine input into what they want to see happen in their city with the newly refurbished Splash Centre being an example. How good is that?

In recent years a few of my colleagues have been from Wanganui and they’re quite apologetic about it. What is that all about?


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