Sixty Whanganui children were treated to a special trip on the PS Waimarie on Friday.

The historic paddle steamer took the pupils from Castlecliff, Aranui, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Tupoho, Keith St and Okoia schools on a one-hour educational cruise.

Nicki Higgie from the Waimarie said funding had been received from the Thomas George Macarthy Trust to allow the students - plus another 60 next week - to take the trip.

In all, the pupils spent two hours at the Waimarie, starting with a welcome and safety briefing by the captain on shore.


During the cruise they learned about the history of the vessel, the relative wind angle (RWA) when sailing, the riverboat era, surrounding on-shore sites, the Waimarie homing pigeons, and more.

Mrs Higgie said some pupils visited the engine room and shovelled coal into the firebox.

"The cruises are designed to educate, as well as to delight the children, and to inspire them to learn more about the heritage and history of their community - with water-safety lessons, too," Mrs Higgie said.

Maryann Roberts, the principal of Aranui School, said 15 of her pupils went on the cruise.

"We used it as a reward system for great behaviour," she said. Some of the pupils had been on the Waimarie but many had not.

"It's really a great resource we have here," Ms Roberts said.

Mrs Higgie said pupils from 11 Whanganui primary schools have been invited. "It is hoped this will be just the beginning of a stronger relationship between the Waimarie and Whanganui schools," she said.