Run Report

Whanganui Road Trip

It was a case of third time lucky running at Whanganui Riverbank parkrun.

New Zealand’s most recent addition was due to start in April, 2020 and I’d planned to visit on Anzac Day (April 25).

But then Covid struck and the Whanganui team were forced to postpone their launch.

They finally got underway on July 4 when New Zealand became the first parkrun country to reopen. 

I didn’t go straight away as I’d already booked a family trip to East End parkrun (I was due to go there the first week of pause).

I also wanted to run my 50th event at Greytown. So instead I booked a motel for August 15 and event #7.

And then we had the second wave.

The Second Restart

It was quite fortuitous that when parkrun announced we could all get started again – bar Auckland – that my home event was cancelled for the marathon.

This was a solo trip. I left work at lunch on Friday and drove directly to Whanganui, a 300km journey of about four hours.

After checking in to the Kingsgate Hotel I made my way to 282 Taupo Quay. I wanted to a) recce the driving route for the morning and b) walk a bit of the course to stretch my legs.

Definitely recommend doing this if you have the time.


It was a stunning spring morning when I arrived on parkrunday around 7.40am.

There was a small crowd at the start line – almost all were volunteers – and we chatted among ourselves while observing the new parkrun Covid framework.

I met event director Judy Mellsop at the start. Also there was fellow tourist Liz Neill, who was running Whanganui to reclaim her countryman status (all events in the country).

Me, Liz and Steve, with Francois in the background.

Liz also wrote the run report and completed her 25th volunteering stint. Congratulations Liz on joining the V25 club.

Steve Darby had also joined us, turned out that after running over 500 parkruns he’d never attended a 7th event so this helped his Wilson Index.

There ended up being just 20 finishers, with eight of these visitors from other parkruns.

As well as me, Liz and Steve, first finisher Francois Joubert was from Whangarei parkrun and there were visitors from Wellington and Palmerston North also.

Running their first parkrun in New Zealand were Luke and Leigh Solomon, who have recently moved from Durban, South Africa, to Whanganui.

They sounded excited to be out of managed isolation and able to run without a perimeter fence.

The run

Whanganui Riverbank parkrun starts with an upriver run of just over 2km.

You run under a couple of bridges, onto a boardwalk and to the Bearing sculpture where you turn around.

This is a large stainless steel sphere with the shape of the Whanganui River carved into it – worth stopping for a photo, I thought.

You make the return run, and depending on the wind could either be enjoyable or less so.

At the starting point you keep running for another 200m or so (and encounter the only rise of the parkrun), turn around and head back to the finish on grass.

I hung around until the tail walker completed her 5km and then it was off to the café.


Whanganui Riverbank parkrun’s café is at the local Mitre 10 Mega, in the Columbus Café. A few of the volunteers joined Liz, Steve and myself for a coffee and chat.

After three hours it was time to get moving – I had aimed to be home by mid afternoon and was already more than an hour later than I expected.

Thoroughly enjoyed Whanganui Riverbank parkrun, and I hope to return so I can explore more of the town than just the parkrun and parkrun café.

The macarons at the Riverside Market (which you run past at the far end of the course) come highly recommended so I must return to give them a try.

One reply on “Whanganui Road Trip”

Hi Alison, Whanganui parkrun on my to do list. Enjoyed the photos and your write up. If anyone likes to do more running events in Whanganui, there is the very social and inclusive New Zealand Masters Games happening in February 2021, running events on the road, the river course, a stair climb race to the Durie Hill and on the track, plus other sports. (I enjoyed 3 days there 2019 for events and exploration) . See https://www.nzmg.com/

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