Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern met locals involved in the region's vaccination effort today as part of a bid to warn lower-vaccinated areas that the Government will not be able to contain Delta in Auckland indefinitely.
Originally planned visits to vaccination clinics in Whanganui and Hunterville were called off as large groups of protesters gathered.
At least 250 gathered outside the vaccination pop-up clinic at Caltex Victoria Avenue this afternoon in preparation for the arrival of Ardern.
She was in Whanganui to encourage people to get vaccinated before Delta spreads more widely.
The PM's media conference to be held at the venue had to be postponed and moved to the Whanganui District Council.
After leaving Whanganui her plan to visit a Hunterville vaccination clinic had to also be abandoned because of protest activity.
Ardern said she was not surprised by the hostile reception from Whanganui protesters.
"Nor am I taking that personally," she said.
"We are at a stage in the vaccine rollout where we are trying to reach into communities that may hold firm views but we need to have those conversations," she said.
She reiterated it was a minority of people protesting on Wednesday.
"I always keep it in perspective - there'll be more people who are vaccinated in Whanganui today than those who attended a protest," Ardern told the Chronicle.
"That's what's important - that people are still accessing vaccinations and having that chance to have conversations with trusted professionals.
"My focus is making sure that everything I do supports that, and doesn't detract from it."
A spokesman for the Prime Minister said she reorganised her afternoon to meet privately with locals involved in the vaccination effort instead of going to clinics.
Those gathered at Caltex were vocal in their opposition to not only the Covid-19 vaccine but the media's coverage of the pandemic in general.
Others voiced their concerns about the Government's vaccine mandates and the Three Waters reforms was also a point of contention.
Whanganui MP Steph Lewis and Te Tai Hauauru MP Adrian Rurawhe arrived at Caltex, but swiftly left as the group of protesters grew.
Whanganui-based National List MP Harete Hipango made an appearance but departed after about 10 minutes.
The protesters then headed up Victoria Avenue to Majestic Square, before continuing the demonstration outside the Whanganui District Council building on the corner of Guyton Street and St Hill Street.
Whanganui Sergeant Colin Wright said police monitored the protest as it moved.
"That was to keep them safe more than anything, because they were walking down the middle of the road," Wright said.
"Luckily, that was dealt with quite nicely."
Ardern left the council building at around 1.45pm, and Wright said the protesters dispersed not long afterwards.
"As soon as they knew she had left, they left as well.
"I think they'd said their piece, and it was getting a bit windy and cold."
Wright said it didn't feel at any time as if the protest would escalate.
"Numerous people thanked us for what we were doing.
"From a policing point of view it was very pleasing. People were receptive to us being there, keeping them safe, and allowing them to protest peacefully and legally."