10 Palmerston North Must-Dos

© NZPocketGuide.com

What is the Must-Do in Palmerston North?

… We can do better: we can give you 10 must-dos in Palmerston North! That’s right, this hub between Wellington and Taupo might be overlooked by most travellers rushing around the North Island, but there’s definitely reason to take a quick detour off the main highway to check out this vibrant Kiwi city. Whether you’re an active traveller seeking some of that famous dazzling NZ landscapes or want to feed your curiosity at one of the museums, there’s something for most types of traveller in “Palmy”. So choose the must-dos to suit your style with this list of the Palmerston North must-dos!

For more advice on planning your trip to Palmy, check out The Complete Guide to Palmerston North.

1. Go for a Hike and See the Maori Sculpture at Manawatu Gorge

A short drive from Palmerston North, Manawatu Gorge is an impressive natural attraction dividing the Ruahine and Tararua Ranges. The reserve’s surrounding forest can be explored on walking and mountain biking trails, such as the 3-5-hour oneway Manawatu Gorge Track or the shorter and more family-friendly 2-hour Tawa Loop Walk. Enjoy the dramatic scenery of the native forest, get amazing views of the gorge and out to Ashhurst and Palmerston North from a side-track to a landslip, and admire the towering metal statue of a Maori warrior at the walks’ junctions. See more walks in the area in the 26 Awesome Hikes Around Palmerston North.

Location: 1631 Napier Road, just at the entrance of Manawatu Gorge at the Ashhurst end, approximately 16km (10 miles) from Palmerston North city centre (The Square).

10 Palmerston North Must-Dos© NZPocketGuide.com

2. Relax, Walk and Play at Victoria Esplanade

While Palmerston Noth has many picturesque city parks to enjoy, a must-do is Victoria Esplanade. You can easily spend hours at this park with its array of gardens and family-friendly attractions. Take the kids to ride the mini railway, operating weekends and public/school holidays, through the park and native bush or let them loose in the playgrounds. Something to appeal to all travellers, the roses at the Dugald MacKenzie Rose Garden are a stunning sight in summer. There’s also a cafe and conservatory garden to check out. See more activities like this in the 10 Things to Do in Palmerston North with Kids.

Location: Access is off Park Road, Manawaroa Street or Fitzherbert Avenue, approximately 3km (2 miles) from Palmerston North city centre (The Square).

10 Palmerston North Must-Dos© ManawatuNZ.co.nz

3. Walk or Cycle the Manawatu River Pathway

An excellent activity to couple with Victoria Esplanade, the Manawatu River Pathway spans 10km (6 miles) along the banks of a picturesque river passing through various parks and plantations. Walk the trail or hire bikes or e-bikes to enjoy this mostly sealed pathway. Bikes can be hired from the Palmerston North i-SITE, Green Bikes or Electric Bike Plus Palmerston North.

Location: Runs between Maxwells Line to Riverside Drive, Palmerston North city centre.

10 Palmerston North Must-Dos© NZPocketGuide.com

4. Visit the Birds at Wildbase Recovery

Also at Victoria Esplanade, but Palmerston North must-do in its own right, Wildbase Recovery is a hospital for New Zealand’s native birds and reptiles. You’ll have no trouble sticking to your budget, as the wildlife hospital is free and open for visitors to see which patients they have in, whether its a kakariki, tuatara, blue duck, kereru, kaka or something else! See more activities like this in the 15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Palmerston North.

Location: At Victoria Esplanade, access is off Park Road, Manawaroa Street or Fitzherbert Avenue, approximately 3km  (2 miles) from Palmerston North city centre (The Square).

10 Palmerston North Must-Dos© NZPocketGuide.com

5. Do Some Extreme Beach Sports at Foxton Beach

Palmerston North is just 30-40 minutes drive from the sea where, one beach is particular, is ideal for doing some of New Zealand’s extreme beach sports. For instance, learn kitesurfing or kite landboarding with Wind Warrior at Foxton Beach. Wind Warrior is one of the most comprehensive kite sports operators in New Zealand and are the country’s only qualified kite landboarding instructors. Even by the end of your first lesson, you could be kite landboarding alongside the sand dunes on the 8km (5-mile) long beach. Alternatively, Foxton Jet Ski (or Wake.X) offers jet ski hire and tours, also at Foxton Beach. Hop on one of their Sea-Doo SPARK jet skis and join the Tour de River guided trip for a thrilling journey of discovery where the Manawatu River meets the Tasman Sea.

Location: Wind Warrior – 1 Thomas Place, Foxton Beach. Foxton Jet Ski – Manawatu Marine Boating Club, 50 Hartley Street, both approximately 45km (28 miles) from Palmerston North city.

10 Palmerston North Must-Dos© NZPocketGuide.com

6. Experience One of Palmy’s Weekly Markets

Being surrounded by all kinds of farms and food producers, as well as talented craftspeople, Palmerston North’s markets are something special. Pick up locally-grown fresh produce, bread, condiments and souvenirs at weekly markets such as the Saturday morning Albert Street Farmers’ Market, the Sunday morning Highbury Flea Market and the Palmy Sunday Market. The most renowned market of the area, however, is the Feilding Farmers’ Market where quality artisan products like local wines, cheeses, meats and more are available to taste and purchase. Check this last one out every Friday morning.

Location: Albert Street Farmers’ Market – Albert Sports Bar Car Park, Albert Street. Highbury Flea Market – Highbury Shopping Centre Carpark, Highbury Avenue. Palmy Sunday Market – 150 Rangitīkei Street. Feilding Farmers’ Market – Manchester Street, Feiling, approximately 19km (12 miles) from Palmerston North city centre.

10 Palmerston North Must-Dos© NZPocketGuide.com

7. Explore the Exhibitions at Te Manawa

What would a New Zealand city visit be without checking out the regional museum? Te Manawa Museum of Art, Science and Heritage is ideally located near the city centre and is free to explore! Check out its range of exhibitions, such as those on the Manawatu River that flows through the city and on Maori taonga (treasure) gifted by local tribes. It’s also one of the 15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Palmerston North.

Location: 326 Main Street, approximately 600m (650 yards) from Palmerston North city centre (The Square).

10 Palmerston North Must-Dos© NZPocketGuide.com

8. Visit the New Zealand Rugby Museum

Another museum well worth checking out, not only because it’s interesting but it’s also located in the same building as Te Manawa, is the New Zealand Rugby Museum. Whether you’re a rugby fan or are simply interested in learning why New Zealanders are so passionate about rugby, the Rugby Museum is a must! See hundreds of rugby union artefacts, from the first pig-bladder rugby balls to modern-day rugby breakfast art (yes, really). The museum is well-presented and has some interactive rugby challenges to tackle (literally) in the centre of the exhibition. Note that there is a small admission fee for this museum.

Location: 326 Main Street, approximately 600m (650 yards) from Palmerston North city centre (The Square).

10 Palmerston North Must-Dos© NZPocketGuide.com

9. Do the Manawatu Country Road Experience

Want to explore the middle of nowhere? There’s plenty of that outside of Palmerston North, especially on the scenic road trip known as The Country Road. Discover breathtaking viewpoints, quaint country cafes and pubs, do day walks, find swimming holes and stay in B&Bs and farmstays. The Country Road is a great way to visit the highlights in 7 Fun Things to Do in Feilding, 6 Amazing Things to Do in Ashhurst, 6 Amazing Things to Do in Apiti, 7 Brilliant Things to Do in Rangiwahia, and 14 Best Things to Do in the Pohangina Valley.

Location: The Country Road consists of three routes: Manawatu Scenic Route – Mangaweka to Ashhurst, Peep-o-Day Route – Ohingaiti to Feilding, and Stormy Point Route – Vinegar Hill to Feilding.

10 Palmerston North Must-Dos© ManawatuNZ.co.nz

10. Take a Road Trip to Limestone Creek

Finally, a dramatic natural attraction and hidden gem found along the aforementioned Country Road, that’s well worth even taking a day trip for, the Limestone Creek Reserve is a collection of limestone formations harbouring glowworms. Here, you’ll find a 600m (656-yard) loop walk where you’ll discover limestone caves, towering moss-covered canyons and displays of glowworms. Take your gumboots or be prepared to get your feet wet on this adventurous walk that has you scrambling through shallow cave streams.

Location: Limestone Road, Āpiti, approximately 76km (47 miles) from Palmerston North city centre.

10 Palmerston North Must-Dos© ManawatuNZ.co.nz

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