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Riverboat Center

Our mission at the Riverboat Centre & Museum is to inspire, empower, connect people and communities to our Awa (River), through history, education and experience paying homage to those who came before us. It’s not just a cruise on the Paddle Steamer Waimarie that will take you down memory lane – our Riverboat Centre houses the Ngaporo Coffee bar & Riverboat Museum, an intricate display of river-related photography and artefacts from the last century. A visit to the Riverboat Museum will uncover the colorful history of the riverboat era and the operations of Hatrick & Co, the company that owned the Paddle Steamer Waimarie and many other riverboats operating on the Whanganui River in the first half of the 20th century.

Home of the Paddle Steamer Waimarie, the Riverboat Centre and Museum is a must visit location when visiting Whanganui, inside the building you will find a working paddle wheel, the M.V. Ongarue on display and information to learn all about the vibrant era of riverboats on the Whanganui River. 

Historical building

The Riverboat Centre and Museum is located within a turn of the century building that originally operated as a rowing facility.

It is among one of the first architecturally designed rowing centres in New Zealand. You can still see the original W.R.C wooden letters, short for Wanganui Rowing Club, above the front door at the entrance to the building and has since gained a New Zealand Heritage Plaque acknowledging its historical significance.

The building was restored by community volunteers and turned into a wonderful workshop for the restoration of the Paddle Steamer Waimarie in the late 90’s and later became the Riverboat Centre and Riverboat Museum. 






Residence of our pigeons

The Riverboat Centre is also the residence of our two homing pigeons, Alexander and Baxter.

Alexander and Baxter join passengers on most 2 hour cruises. They are our Pigeon Post and are carried up the Whanganui River where passengers are invited to handwrite a personal message which our crew insert into canisters which are attached to the pigeons’ legs before releasing them. 

Being the well trained pigeons they are – they fly back to their loft at the Riverboat Centre where after the cruise the authors can see their messages have arrived safely.

The Pigeon Post gives our passengers a unique experience and insight into how homing pigeons were used for long distance communication on the river back when the riverboats operated.