Taumarunui is a small rural service town situated at the top of the Whanganui River and on the edge of the Ruapehu district. Set on an alluvial plain and surrounded by rugged terrain it has played a central part in accessing the remote King Country for over a century.
Originally Taumarunui was a Māori settlement where the Whanganui and Ongarue rivers met as it was an important waka route allowing access to the coast and interior. Closed to European settlement until the 1880s, large tracts of land were sold by the settler Government from the 1890s and Europeans began to settle in the area. Access to the town was still via the Whanganui River as steamships ran the length of the river from Whanganui in the south to Taumarunui in the north. These vessels ran until the 1920s. The main trunk line was opened in 1908 which further opened the region to farming and forestry, helping Taumarunui develop as a central place for merchants to supply the region. These days Taumarunui is developing a reputation as the “gateway to adventure” as tourism grows in the region.