friendship force

New Zealand


  • Official Club Name: The Friendship Force of Wanganui, New Zealand
  • Closest major Airport: Wellington Airport; Auckland International Airport is the country’s major international airport.
  • Closest regional/local airport: Wanganui Airport
  • Cost of transportation between the airport and our city (based on 20 people): none because we greet and collect Ambassadors at Wanganui Airport.
  • Maximum number of Ambassadors our club can host: 14

About the club

Formed in 1983 after a visit by Wayne Smith of Friendship Force International, the Wanganui was the first Friendship Force club in New Zealand. In 1982, our club was the first club to have an outward exchange. We have 40 enthusiastic and hospitable members. The club has use of club rooms leased from the District Council. The Mayor of Wanganui, Annette Main, is our Patron. We have hosted the New Zealand national conference three times. We coordinate with other geographically close Friendship Force clubs to share and network activities.

About the region

Wanganui is an historically old city in a valley at the mouth of the Whanganui River where the river meets the Tasman Sea. It lies on the West Coast of the North Island 454 km from Auckland, the main international airport, and a 3 hour drive north of the capital city, Wellington. The city has a population of 42,600.  Wanganui has much to offer as a destination with our river a significant tourist destination for tourists, fishermen, canoeists, trampers and hunters. River Road has spectacular scenery, a beautifully restored Maori marae and early settler buildings. A jet-boat trip will take you from the upper settlement of Pipiriki to the renowned Bridge to Nowhere, part of a failed attempt to open up the rugged interior for farming. Wanganui has also developed a strong reputation as a vibrant arts centre with many recognised galleries and studios. It hosts the New Zealand Opera School each year and people from throughout New Zealand visit to hear our budding young opera stars. We have two mountains nearby for a day visit and beautiful park areas and interesting wild, black-sand West Coast beaches.

About a typical exchange

During exchanges we show Ambassadors our beautiful region. A selection from our standard “fare” offered to Ambassadors is a trip on an historic paddle steamer from downtown Wanganui, upriver to Upokongaro; a visit to our bustling Saturday markets; watching our glass artists create their magic at the Chronicle Glass Studio; riding up New Zealand’s unique Durie Hill underground lift to a viewpoint with panoramic scenes over the city, river and to the coast; a Mayoral Reception; and a trip to and picnic at our splendid Bason Botanical Reserve . Bridge Block in our lower main Avenue is worth a visit with its historic buildings, boutique shops to browse through and cafes to relax in and there are lovely walks along our river bank close by. We share pot-luck meals in our club rooms and ensure there is plenty of mingle and social time for us all. A visit to our local Putiki Marae and its church decorated with traditional Maori carvings and designs is well worth a visit. Ambassadors are farewelled with a catered meal at a social gathering.

Updated 28 February 2015


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