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Buying a house in Whanganui

Updated: Nov 28


Buying a house in Whanganui - Whanganui Mansions
Buying a house in Whanganui - Whanganui Mansions

Whanganui, formerly referred to Wanganui (changed to Petre in the 1830s, back to Wanganui in 1844 then Whanganui in 2015) is found at the point where Whanganui River joins the ocean on the western coastline of the North Island in the Manawatu-Whanganui region. Whanganui boasts a population of just over 48,000 taking the second spot as the most populous city in Manawatu-Whanganui and the 21st place nationally.

The population is spread out into many suburbs in one of the oldest cities in New Zealand. The city has attracted many artists over the last decade or two and generates a lot of creative energy. There’s definitely no shortage of artistic talent. Whanganui has a wide river, black sandy beaches strewn with driftwood and rolling green hills that act as a source of inspiration to locals.


All these factors play a part in Whanganui property prices; with a house selling at an average price of $470,000, which is almost half New Zealand’s national average of $826,300. Affordable house prices in Whanganui have made it one of the hottest housing markets in New Zealand, with prices expected to continue growing in the coming years.

Whanganui History

Whanganui was populated by Maori villages years before European settlement mostly due to its proximity to the mouth of the river. Chief Te Rauparaha launched retaliation attacks against coastal tribes a year before European traders set foot in Whanganui (1840). In a decade, the European traders negotiated the acquisition of 40 thousand acres, where they started a settlement four kilometers from the point where the river reached the ocean.

The township was attacked in 1846 by chief Te Mamaku who settled further upstream. This led to the British military being sent to defend their interests. After two minor wars that ended in a stalemate, Te Mamaku started accepting Christian teachings in 1850.

Whanganui played a huge role in the New Zealand Wars because it acted as a critical military centre in the 1860s. Native Maori at Putiki were collaborative with the settlers which were rewarded by a town bridge and a railway bridge that linked Whanganui to neighboring cities 26 years after the war. The township has since grown to be known for river adventures, Maori culture, and heritage.

Aramoho

This suburb is 5.5km upriver from the city centre and is mostly private dwellings and a small population that is shared among three main ethnicities, with Maori descent and other ethnic groups taking above 50% and European ethnic group taking the rest mostly who were born in New Zealand. The suburb is not religious, with 33% confessing to being Christians and 51.5% of the population has no religion.

Bastia Hill

Bastia Hill is one of the two hills that have a tower in Whanganui which have defined the landscape since the mid-1920 and served as a water tower. The majority of residential houses were created between 1960 and 1969, with residential housing taking up approximately 94% of Bastia Hill. The suburb is among those experiencing a rise in house prices in Whanganui.

Castlecliff

Castlecliff is a Whanganui beach suburb and house prices have been increasing fast, with the first seven-figure residential property sale being completed in 2020 which sold for $1.15 million. The suburb has transformed from a reputation of gang violence to a growing community due to the increasing number of jobs and a growing population. Although the suburbs holds many state housing properties a local group called Progress Castlecliff have been the motivating factor behind a dramatic increase in community spirit and pride. The group set about on a beautification project of the suburb and created a small shopping centre that now boasts a café, library and a thriving social hub.

College Estate

College Estate is a suburb of stately homes with many grand properties and tree-lined streets. The majority of residents in College Estate own or partly own their residential properties, with 97.8% of its residents having access to all basic amenities. It is not uncommon to find a number of properties on leasehold land in this suburb. The suburb has a low unemployment rate.

Durie Hill

Durie Hill is the second hill with a tower that was built as a war memorial and has allowed public access to the site. The 176-step tower is a tourist attraction for both residents and foreigners alike, with more than five ethnicities helping to create the culture of the suburb. The Durie Hill tunnel enables residents to walk to the town centre using the elevator at the end of the tunnel.

Fordell

Fordell is a rural settlement with its own school, hotel and service station. It is home to the popular Paloma Gardens, a local tourist attraction along with numerous historical homes. It is well known for its local stock sales, being a farming community. It is located 18km from downtown Whanganui. It has a housing stock of around 550 households and is surrounded by numerous farms of various sizes.

Gonville

With a large housing stock, Gonville is one of the largest suburbs in Whanganui with many properties being constructed around the early 1900s. It is thought of locally as a good working-class area. Residential ownership of properties makes up 97% of stock with 3% being investment housing.

Otamatea

This is a developing suburb and is one of the most expensive suburbs in Whanganui when we look at Whanganui property prices. The majority of buildings having been constructed between 2000 and 2009. The suburb is semi-rural and on the outer limits of the town boundary but is still under the control of the Whanganui District Council.

Putiki

Putiki is a riverside settlement with parts being prone to flooding. Named after Putiki who was replaced by Te Rauparaha after aggressively attacking his stronghold in 1930. 95.3% of the residents in Putiki believe that they have access to all amenities, with 58.4% of the residents owning private residential property.

Saint Johns Hill

Saint Johns Hill is considered by many to be the most prestigious suburb of Whanganui with an extremely high proportion of owner-occupied stock. Many properties were constructed in the early 1900s with a second wave coming in this popular suburb as it expanded in the 1970s. The average price is well over $700,000 which is substantially more than the local average of house prices in Whanganui.

Springvale/Tawhero

Springvale is the home of Springvale Park, a popular local sports stadium and swim centre. Ethnicity is over 80% being of European descent and over 5% Maori descent It is one of the larger housing areas in Whanganui. A large proportion of housing stock is modern having been built in the 1980s with a high proportion of owner-occupation. It has become one of the more desirable locations in Whanganui and fares well with housing prices in Wanganui.

Whanganui East

The suburb generates an annual median income that is lower than the national average household income. More than half of the residents own or partly own private residential properties. Part of the suburb along the Whanganui River has been prone to flooding over the years but it is thought of as a good working-class neighbourhood that is relatively close to town via the City Bridge or the Dublin Street Bridge.

Westmere

Westmere is among the most expensive suburbs in New Zealand, with homes for sale in Wanganui reaching up to $2.4 million. The majority of the current residential building was created between 1920 and 1929. The suburb has a high average household income, with most residents making an average of more than $100,000 annually.

Whanganui is among the cheapest places to buy a house in New Zealand. Divided into many different suburbs you are guaranteed to find a house you can settle in. From the least populated and cheapest suburbs to the fastest-growing housing prices, the city proves to be a great choice for investment, with the majority of house prices expected to shoot up over the coming years due to property shortages. Whanganui offers a real community experience for its residents with delightful parks for both adults and children alike and a thriving number of community groups. It is said that there are over 1,000 community groups or clubs in Whanganui.