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Wanganui is located on the South Taranaki Bight, close to the mouth of the Whanganui River. It is 200 kilometres north of Wellington and 75 kilometres northwest of Palmerston North, at the junction of State Highways 3 and 4. Most of the town lies on the river's northwestern bank, although some suburbs are located on the opposite side of the river.
It enjoys a temperate climate, with slightly above the national average sunshine (2100 hours per annum), and about 900 mm of annual rainfall. Frosts in winter are uncommon, but not rare.
It is administered by Wanganui District Council. The current mayor is Annette Main.
Wanganui or Whanganui?
In the local accent, Māori say wh as w followed by a glottal stop, and the name as something like "W'anganui", hard to reproduce by non-locals. Until recently it was generally written as "Wanganui" and pronounced with a w by non-speakers of Māori and a wh by those Māori speakers from other areas who knew its derivation.Following an article about the river by David Young in the New Zealand Geographic magazine that used "Whanganui" throughout, in accord with the wishes of the local iwi, the spelling of the river's name reverted to Whanganui in 1991. The region's name is now sometimes also spelt "Whanganui". The variant spellings do not reflect any difference in the underlying name.
Prominent buildings of the city include the Sarjeant Art Gallery, and the Royal Wanganui Opera House, which was built in 1901.
Cook's Gardens are a major sporting venue, used for cricket, cycling, and athletics. On January 27, 1962, a world record time for running the mile was set by Peter Snell on the grass track at the gardens.
Much of the city is on the river's northwest bank. The river is crossed by four bridges - Cobham Bridge, City Bridge, Dublin Street Bridge and Aramoho Railway Bridge (rail and pedestrians only). Close to the southeast end of the City Bridge is one of Wanganui's more unusual features, an elevator leading to a monument on the top of Durie Hill.
Suburbs of the city include (clockwise from due south), Gonville, Castlecliff, Springvale, St. Johns Hill, Aramoho, Wanganui East, Bastia Hill, and Durie Hill. Of these, all except Wanganui East, Bastia Hill, and Durie Hill are on the northwest bank.
Auckland to Wanganui: 454km
Wellington to Wanganui: 195km
Christchurch to Wanganui: 535km
Dunedin to Wanganui: 897km