The new-look Bushy Park Tarapuhruhi has launched with the opening of a new visitor information centre.
Around 200 people attended Saturday's event, including Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and trust patron and Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall.
The new visitor centre features interactive displays, including real birds' nests and bones, and includes information on what the forest area means to iwi.
Bushy Park Trust chair Kevin Ross said the event marked the conclusion of years of hard work.
"We have a historic homestead restored to its former glory. The stables have been renovated to house a visitor interpretation centre, exhibition spaces for some of our heritage items and an upgraded ablutions block."
The event was also a chance for the community to be thanked for its input.
"It was a great opportunity to honour everyone who has given so much as volunteers, supporters and sponsors, especially the Rotary Club of Wanganui North which has done a lot of the physical work in fundraising," trustee Nicola Patrick said.
"There have been many people involved over the years and it was lovely to have a number of former trustees and chairs present so we could thank them.
"Everything that culminated in the celebration is built on the back of all their efforts."
Guests were offered guided walks through the protected forest and wetland, and a tour of the Heritage New Zealand Category 1 listed homestead.
Last month Bushy Park adopted "Tarapuruhi" into its name, which means "a place of abundant bird life."
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage, who was also launching Conservation Week, said Whanganui residents were fortunate to have such a treasure so close to town.
"Tarapuruhi Bushy Park is unique nationally because of its combination of a 100-hectare remnant of rich coastal lowland forest protected as a sanctuary for plants and wildlife with its predator proof fence and its celebration of Whanganui's colonial and farming heritage.
"It's a place where people can experience impressive forests; learn more of our colonial and farming history and the stories of Ngaa Rauru Kiitahi."
The visitor centre opening was also one of the last events of the inaugural Whanganui Heritage Month.
The forest sanctuary is open during daylight hours and the homestead is open Tuesday to Sunday between 10am and 4pm.
Entry is now free although koha is appreciated.