Whanganui is a puzzle to pronounce, since unusally the ‘wh’ sound is pronounced ‘w’ rather than ‘f’. Apparently it’s the way local Maori always pronounced it, but even though it used to be spelled also as Wanganui the local council decided some years ago to standardise on the ‘wh’ and leave us puzled for evermore. Sometimes you wonder if biculturalism in New Zealand is played as a bit of a mind-game – as if the cultural police want to keep everyone flip-flopping between two states of mind at once.

Whanganui Winter Gardens

Whanganui is a pleasant city with a (tiny) trendy historic centre, but it seems to have few real attractions. The main one is the Winter Gardens, but even that is basically just a park with a greenhouse. Still, it justifies a stop on the long drive back from Taranaki…