We’d read about an underground elevator near Whanganui and decided that on our way to New Plymouth from Raumati Beach we’d stop for a look. The tunnel entrance that leads to the elevator is on Anzac Parade not far along State Highway 4, but there were cars parked on both sides of the road for miles, and anyway the GPS decided to take us to the top of Durie Hill.

Whanganui’s impressive WW1 memorial

There, to our astonishment, a tall, slim, stone tower-like structure stretched skyward. Completely fascinated, and momentarily forgetting about the tunnel and elevator, we stopped to view what turned out to be a 104ft (31.699 metre) memorial commemorating the 513 people from the Whanganui district who died during WW1. Its exterior construction is shell-rock (cemented marine sandstone that includes shell fragments). It’s lined with plastered brick, and a climb up 176 steps from the base takes you to a lookout deck on the parapet that reveals sensational views over the river, the city, Mounts Taranaki and Ruapehu and out to the Tasman sea.

Pou guard the tunnel entrance

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