A beautiful place, well worth visiting, lies at the heart of Whanganui city. It is the Virginia Lake Reserve, 18 hectares (45 acres) of lake, bush, gardens, walkways, sculptures and other pleasant Sunday-afternoon diversions.
Virginia Lake itself was originally known as Rotokawau, which refers to the native black shag that still visits here to feed (I believe it also breeds here).
Maori believed the lake had been formed by the tears of angry gods and of the beautiful woman named Tainui, after her lover was strangled by a jealous suitor.
The Higginbottom Fountain is a floating copper and steel waterlily, and has been a feature here for the last fifty years. It can be activated for 10 minutes by inserting a $1 coin into the machine (on shore, so you don’t have to wade out there!).
The Lake is home to numerous birds, especially ducks, geese, coots, and pukeko. Their droppings were a bit of a problem though, and one had sometimes to be very careful where one placed one’s feet!
I enjoyed seeing the swans, both white and black, and was intrigued to see how the white swans treated the smaller black ones – they were quite bossy, and the black ones did their best to stay well out of the way.
Different sculptures and art works are scattered around the place, and this pleasant seat was sited near the Winter Gardens for those who just wanted to sit and contemplate for a while.
The indoor Winter Gardens were full of bold displays of vibrant colour.
Tucked into various corners there were different pieces of art work to be discovered.
There were also peaceful corners to be found in the Winter Gardens, which helped relieve the eye of all the bright colours.
And occasionally a lurking danger could be found to scare unwary children.
After dark, Higginbottom Fountain is illuminated by fifteen jets of amber, blue, green and red, giving an ever-changing display which lasts for forty minutes.
Our return visit to see the lights made for a very pretty way to end our day.
I hope you have enjoyed this wander around some of Virginia Lake Reserve. It really is a beautiful place to visit.
NEWSFLASH (30 Oct 2020): Whanganui has been awarded the title Most Beautiful Small City in New Zealand (Hamilton is the most beautiful large city!) in the Keep New Zealand Beautiful Awards 2020. Congratulations Whanganui and Hamilton!