Time for a long overdue adventure and being just a few hours from New Plymouth, a day trip to explore Whanganui seemed like the perfect adventure destination.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, George is super impatient. He can't even handle waiting the 5 minute drive it takes us to get to the nearest park from home without barking and whining with excitement. So asking him to wait until we get all the way to Whanganui for his first walk of the day was never going to happen....well quietly at least! I planned a quick stop in Inglewood, just outside of New Plymouth as our first walk of the day.
Joe Gibbs Reserve - Inglewood
Location for Google Maps: 59 Standish Street, Inglewood
This reserve is visible from the main road through town and easily accessed without having to go out of your way to carry on south. Parking is limited due to yellow lines at the Moa Street entrance, but there is parking available on Standish Street and also on State Highway 3. We parked up at Standish Street and heading into the park, it pointed us towards a lookout to the left. It's not until you pop down the hill that you spot the little bridge crossing the water into a tree covered adventure. George absolutely loved exploring in here, new sights and new smells he had his head to the ground the whole time and then sprinted ahead to see what was around each corner. Be advised, this area in the trees is mostly stairs and when it says it's a lookout, it's not anymore. It's overgrown to the point you can't really see anything these days so if you're not too keen on climbing the stairs up to the top, you're not missing much.
After heading back down the hill, we went in search of access to the water as it was a hot summers day when we visited. If you head across the bridge and back through the gate, then head to the right to find a warn pathway through the grass that gives doggies access to the water for a spot of swimming, although the water isn't really deep so may not be as suitable for big dogs. George had a swim and then enjoyed sprinting round the grassy area of the reserve before it was time to jump in the car and carry on the adventure.
Hyltons Pit - Whanganui
Location for Google Maps: Hylton Park, Brunswick Road, Whanganui or access from end of Field Street.
Planning all our adventures, I always try and plan to not have to back track on ourselves so this walk started on the outskirts with the rest looping around town before heading back out again. You'll turn off State Highway 3 before reaching Whanganui to access this walk from New Plymouth as we did. We parked up at the Brunswick Road entrance, but you can also access it from Field Street.
Hylton Park is an active mountain biking park so you need to be aware of bikes around you on the tracks. I believe this spot is quite popular with local dog walkers, so likely that bikers are used to sharing but be alert as they do travel at speed. In this instance there was nobody else parked up when we arrived, but I was cautious and tried to stay visible the whole time we were there, especially since it was also unfamiliar to me. Any mountain bike tracks we walk, I also always try and follow the same entry and exit directions that the bikes would so we don't encounter anyone heading straight on.
Onto the walk! We took the track to the right and followed that around, taking each right until we reached a wide open area down a small hill that also turned out to be the Field Street entrance. We explored this open area for a while as it gave me good visibility if any bikers came down. The only downside was that being so open, we got really hot really quickly as there was no shade. George thought he had found water to cool off in...but realised a little too late it was a swamp and ended up belly deep in thick mud. He was far from impressed and I tried hard to hold back the giggles as he always looks so offended when I laugh at his misfortune. After the swampy mishap, we looped our way back and followed the same track we started on but took the upper track to loop back to the carpark. It took us around 30mins or so but with so many tracks to explore, you could spend a lot longer if this was your one and only walk for the day.
After George's swamp misadventure, he absolutely stunk out the car, so we made a slight detour to our plans and went looking for river access for him to wash off and get a proper swim in. My nose was thankfully put out of its misery pretty quick thanks to easy access to the water at what looked to part of the rowing club. 218 Somme Parade is the access point if you drop that into Google Maps, and then head down the concrete drive. There are a set of stairs and ramp down to the water which was perfect for George as he likes to be able to walk into water rather than plunge straight in. Swim complete, happy doggie, happy mummy.
Peat Park Deer Sanctuary and Peat Street ZigZag Reserve - Whanganui
Location for Google Maps: 61-71 Halswell Street, Whanganui
Fresh as a daisy after his swim, we were off again and to the most intriguing spot on my list. A deer sanctuary! Ok so who knew Whanganui had deer hanging out in a park!? This spot was a double whammy, not only a dog friendly park to run around but also a short walk to enjoy. We started off exploring the park, parking up on Halswell Street gave us good access to the park and the deer sanctuary. George was on his best behaviour, but the deer are skittish and weren't keen to come and see him at the fence. It's a fun sight to see in suburbia. George played with a few local doggies and then we set off to explore Burnet Terrace walkway across the road.
Entry to the walkway is across the road from the deer area. It's a concreted pathway the whole way, and you'll want to take the path to the left where it splits. This pathway takes you up above the houses below and ends at Smart Terrace. I had planned to walk to Smart Terrace, loop back along Peat Street and back to where I had parked the car. But with it being such a hot day, we ended up walking to the end of the walkway and back again so I could keep us in the shade for longer. It's a short walkway, but a nice add on to the park. You can also chose to walk the pathway behind the deer sanctuary but this takes you up the hill alongside a reasonably busy road so not as pleasant in my opinion.
Springvale Park - Whanganui
Location for Google Maps: 112 Parsons Street, Whanganui
Next on our visit list was Springvale Park. Accessible from Parsons Street and Carlton Ave. You're best to park on Parsons Street for easy access to the dog exercise area which runs the length of Parsons Street. Dogs are allowed off-lead here, except when sports events are on. George loves an adventure, but being 3 walks in with a couple of swims, I can always tell when he's starting to get a bit weary. Being a large open park space, I grabbed the tennis balls and we had a game of fetch to spend some time enjoying this doggie haven. Many other locals were enjoying this space with their dogs too, so it's a great spot for some dog socialisation. It's not fenced off from the road so you need to have confidence your dog won't stray too far.
Gonville Domain - Whanganui
Location for Google Maps: 99 Alma Road, Whanganui
Just around the corner from Springvale Park is Gonville Domain. A similar setup to Springvale in that it's a large open space for running around, but further away from the road so better suited if you're nervous to have your dog off-lead at Springvale. I parked up at the kindergarten carpark and let George have an explore. Although we didn't try it when we visited, it did look like there might be an option to walk around the edge of the golf course that the domain also encompasses. If you give it a go, let us know!
P.S. There are public toilets at this domain.
Castlecliff Domain - Whanganui
Location for Google Maps: North Mole
Lucky last stop on our adventure and it's for a beach adventure. Dogs are allowed on the beach at Castlecliff up to Rangiora Street. North Mole parking area is the best spot to get easy access to the beach, although popular with local fishermen so can be busy at times. Sniffing the beachy breeze out the window, George had gotten his second wind for another adventure but sadly when we reached North Mole, the sea was really rough and taking him for a swim wasn't really an option. George and sand are not a good mix when he can't get a rinse off, he's determined to cover himself top to toe in it! So I made the heartbreaking decision that we wouldn't be visiting the beach for our final hoorah. We did sit and enjoy the scenery for a bit though and when George started snoring on the seat beside me, I knew it was time to finally head home.
Whanganui has so much more to offer than just the places we visited on this trip, so we will be back again to explore more fun doggie friendly places. Got a recommendation for us? Send us a message and let us know where you think we should check out next time.