26 Awesome Hikes Around Palmerston North© ManawatuNZ.co.nz
26 Awesome Hikes Around Palmerston North

26 Best Hikes Around Palmerston North

© ManawatuNZ.co.nz
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
NZ Pocket Guide is 10 years old. Thank you for trusting us with your trip for over a decade!

Walks In and Around Palmerston North

If you like using your own two feet then Palmerston North is the perfect hub for you! The city is completely surrounded by various reserves and parks connected with walking tracks. There are hikes around Palmerston North for everyone, from tough full-day tramps to the top of the Ruahine Ranges to the easy 15-minute loops providing a good excuse just to see something new.

The region of Manawatu-Wanganui that surrounds Palmerston North is scattered with native forests, exotic forests, beaches, hills, mountains and rivers. There’s plenty to see and hiking is the perfect combination of seeing and doing! Plus, all these walks are free!

The hikes around Palmerston North listed below are mostly walking trails only accessible by your own means of transport, however, we have listed a few walks that can easily be walked to from the city centre. Check out the 10 Palmerston North Must-Dos to see more things to do within the city.

1. Manawatu Gorge Walk (3-5 Hours One Way)

Delve into the forests of Manawatu Gorge on this long walk near Palmerston North. The 10km (6-mile) track is a one-way track so either give plenty of time to return or organise return transport with the Palmerston North i-SITE. Enjoy several viewpoints of the gorge and river along the way, as well as the impressive Maori statue.

Location: 15 minutes from Palmerston North. State Highway 3, Ashhurst. Start from the large car park on the left just before entering the gorge.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

2. Tawa Loop Track (2 Hours Loop)

A shorter hike in the Manawatu Gorge, the Tawa Loop Track is a moderate-difficulty walk alongside streams and in the forest. See the Maori warrior sculpture and watch the birds flutter around you.

Location: 15 minutes from Palmerston North. State Highway 3, Ashhurst. Start from the large car park on the left just before entering the gorge.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

3. Totara Loop Track (15 Minutes Loop)

Just a snippet of the Manawatu Gorge, the Totara Loop Track is an easy one over boardwalks with interpretation plaques made by local children.

Location: 20 minutes from Palmerston North. Take State Highway 3 all the way to Ballance Bridge. The walk is just over the bridge.

Szilas on Wikipedia© Szilas on Wikipedia

4. Manawatu River Pathway (1-5 Hours One Way)

This 10km riverside path has multiple entry points making it as long as a walk as you want it to be. The shared pathway can be cycled or walked, taking in the scenery of the Manawatu River, as well as being a scenic way to visit various parks along the way.

Location: Only 5-10 minutes from Palmerston North. Various entry points include Te Mata Road, Albert Street, Centennial Drive, The Esplanade and Maxwells Line. The track is just a 5-10 minute drive from the city centre.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

5. Kitchener Park to Kowhai Park Walkway (30 Minutes One Way)

There’s a lot on offer in the little town of Feilding and one of those things is this delightful stream-side walking track between Kitchener Park and Kowhai Park. Although mostly a gravel track, some of the walkway turns into boardwalks. It’s a super easy walk but well worth it when exploring the town along with the 7 Fun Things to Do in Feilding.

Location: 40 minutes from Palmerston North. Kawa Kawa Road, Feilding.

Cody Cooper on Wikipeida© Cody Cooper on Wikipeida

6. Kahikatea Walk (20 Minutes Loop)

An easy walk in the Pohangina Valley which is a great introduction to the wild. Take your time to marvel at the large rata tree, as well as a stand of kahikatea and rimu. Finally, soak in the views of the Pohangina Valley.

Location: 40 minutes from Palmerston North. Take the Pohangina Valley East Road, Pohangina. The track entrance is on the left approximately 1km (0.6 miles) past Arbon’s Road.

Pseudopanax at en.wikipedia© Pseudopanax at en.wikipedia

7. Fern Walk (2 Hours Loop)

Situated in the stunning Totara Reserve, this 5km track is tucked away on the Pohangina Valley. Walk among the region’s most ancient remnants of native forest where native birds are often seen and heard. This is a moderate walk so be prepared with suitable hiking shoes. Check out more attractions in the area with the 14 Best Things to Do in the Pohangina Valley.

Location: 40 minutes from Palmerston North. Totara Reserve, Churchill Drive, Pohangina.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

8. Pettifar & Gilchrist Loop Tracks (1-2 Hours Loop)

Another hiking option in the Totara Reserve is the Pettifar Loop Track and the Gilchrist Loop Track. Both encompass the stunning native forest and native birds of the Totara Reserve taking you down a series of terraces to the Pohangina River. The tracks start off as the same track then branch off to form their own loops.

Location: 35 minutes from Palmerston North. From Ashhurst, drive north along Pohangina Road then turn right at Raumai onto Pohangina Valley East Road. Signposts point to the walks.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

9. Rangiwahia Bush Reserve Track (45 Minutes Loop)

Another great native forest loop walk in the Manawatu-Wanganui region! This place has been left untouched so hikers and birds alike can enjoy the forest. Check out more activities in the area with the 7 Brilliant Things to Do in Rangiwahia.

Location: 1 hour from Palmerston North. Reserve Road, Rangiwahia. (The end section to get to the walk is down a gravel road).

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

10. Rangiwahia Hut Track (2-3 Hours Return)

For epic views across the hilltops of the Ruahine Forest Park, take this popular hiking track to the Rangiwahia Hut which sits above the treeline. You’ll hike through bush-clad hills to the hut then across the exposed tussock landscape.

Location: 1h10mins from Palmerston North. Renfrew Road end, Rangiwahia.

Michal Klajban (Hikingisgood.com) on Wikipedia© Michal Klajban (Hikingisgood.com) on Wikipedia

11. Sledge Track (5-6 Hours Return)

How much you complete of this track is entirely up to you as there is plenty to see along the way. The Sledge Track starts off easy passing waterfalls and swimming holes, as well as rock formations along the river. About 30 minutes into the walk, the track steepens heading up to the Elevation (about 1h30mins into the walk). Then walk to the Platinum Mines (3 hours in) and past a number of old mineshafts and taking in some awesome scenery.

Location: 25 minutes from Palmerston North. 897 Kahuterawa Road (at the road end), Palmerston North.

© Imgur

12. Alice Nash Memorial Heritage Lodge Track (45 Minutes Return)

This former logging road features a picture-perfect arched wooden bridge over the narrow Umutoi Creek gorge then continues through beech forest to a heritage lodge offering spectacular views of the Oroua River. Check out the track description on the Department of Conservation (DOC) website.

Location: 1 hour from Palmerston North. Tabel Flat Road End, Apiti.

Michal Klajban (Hikingisgood.com) on Wikipedia© Michal Klajban (Hikingisgood.com) on Wikipedia

13. Maharahara Peak Track (6 Hours Return)

One for the more experienced hiker who likes to bag their peaks. This is a steep and often muddy track through forest to the exposed rocky mountain-tops of Maharahara (1,095m/3,592ft). Note that the track is closed during September-October for the lambing season.

Location: 45 minutes from Palmerston North. Opawa Road, Pohangina.

Michal Klajban (Hikingisgood.com) on Wikipedia© Michal Klajban (Hikingisgood.com) on Wikipedia

14. Deerford Track (2-3 Hours Loop or 4-5 Hours Loop)

A couple of hiking options are available on the Deerford Track. From the car park, follow the fenceline to Coal Creek then it’s a short climb to the plateau meets the Deerford Track. You can then loop back to Coal Creek again taking 2-3 hours total. Alternatively, just prior to the creek is a fork in the track where the left becomes the Knight’s Track (up to the summit) and the right is the steep Diagonal meeting Short’s Track. The Deerford-Diagonal-Shorts Tracks’ loop would take 4-5 hours.

Location: 1h30mins from Palmerston North. The car park at Limestone Road end, Apiti.

 max_wax1973 on Flickr© max_wax1973 on Flickr

15. Beehive Creek Walkway (2-3 Hours One Way)

For a bit of creek action, check out the Beehive Creek Walkway. Cross farmland to the creek and return the same way. Note that the walk is closed between 1-August and 31-October for lambing.

Location: 45 minutes from Palmerston North. Pohangina Road, Pohangina.

 QFSE Media on Wikipedia© QFSE Media on Wikipedia

16. Purity Hut (3-4 Hours One Way)

A steep climb most of the way, the Purity Hut track is one for determined hikers. Hike above the treeline of the Hikurangi Range to this hut with excellent views of the surrounding mountains. Note that you will need walking access permission for this track. Contact the Department of Conservation (06 350 9700) to get the landowner’s contact details.

Location: 1h45mins from Palmerston North. Mangakukeke Road, Mangaweka.

 Michal Klajban (Hikingisgood.com) on Wikipedia© Michal Klajban (Hikingisgood.com) on Wikipedia

17. Paengaroa Scenic Reserve Walk (15 Minutes Return)

A great place to come for a picnic, the Paengaroa Scenic Reserve Walk takes you over the Hautapu River to an area surrounded by unique and rare vegetation. Find this walk near Taihape, where you can also do the 7 Terrific Things to Do in Taihape.

Location: 1h30min from Palmerston North. Along Mataroa Road turn right before the Mataroa School and cross the railway bridge to the car park. Mataroa Village.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

18. Mangaweka Scenic Reserve (1-hour Loop)

A simple track through lowland forest to get spectacular views of Mangaweka village, the Ruahine Ranges and the cliffs along the Rangitikei River valley.

Location: 1h45min from Palmerston North. Te Kapua Road, Mangaweka.

PhilBeeNZ on Wikipedia© PhilBeeNZ on Wikipedia

19. Bruce Park Loop Track (20 min-1 Hour Loop)

An easy track making a figure of eight so you can cut the walk short or complete the whole loop. Walk through a large archway memorial dedicated to the conservationist, Robert Cunningham Bruce, into the forest.

Location: 45 minutes from Palmerston North. Silverhope Bush Road, Hunterville.

Rudolph89 on Wikipedia© Rudolph89 on Wikipedia

20. Iron Gate Hut Track (4-5 Hours Return)

Follow the Alice Nash Memorial Heritage Lodge track (see point 12) and continue to a side track following the Oroua River to the Iron Gate Hut. Be prepared for several steep climbs and descents.

Location: 1 hour from Palmerston North. Petersons Road end, Apiti.

Michal Klajban (Hikingisgood.com) on Wikipedia© Michal Klajban (Hikingisgood.com) on Wikipedia

21. Branch Road Walkway (1h30min One Way)

Follow an old road which was closed in the 1960s called Branch Road to Ridge Road where the track descends into open farmland with views. Then cross into native forest then exotic pine forest before exiting onto Kuku Road in the Pohangina Valley.

Location: 30-40 minutes from Palmerston North. Ridge Road, Pohangina Village.

© NZPocketGuide.com

22. Waitarere Forest (2 Hours Return)

There are a number of walks that can be done on 4×4 tracks in the Waitarere Forest, however, few are signposted. A popular track is from Waitarere Beach to the Foxton Estuary taking you through the forest. Bikes are permitted on these tracks too.

Location: 50 minutes from Palmerston North. Waitarere Beach Road, Waitarere.

Jeff Hitchcock on Wikipedia© Jeff Hitchcock on Wikipedia

23. Kohitere Trig (2 Hours Return)

A popular walk which provides alternative access to the Totara Reserve by foot or by bike. Walk through the Kohitere Forest up to the trig providing awesome views of the South Island, Kapiti Island, Mt Taranaki and Mt Ruapehu on a clear day. The track can be found near Levin where the 10 Fun Things to Do in Levin can be experienced!

Location: 40 minutes from Palmerston North. Denton Road car park, Levin.

Pixabay© Pixabay

24. Coppermine Creek Track (2 Hours Return)

Walk through lowland forest on the Coppermine Creek Track where copper was once mined. There are plenty of picnic tables along the way to make the most of it.

Location: 55 minutes from Palmerston North. Coppermine Road, Woodville.

Pixabay© Pixabay

25. Ashhurst Domain (25-35 Minutes Return)

There are a variety of walkways in the Ashhurst Domain through native bush, along the Manawatu River, and with views over conservation wetlands. Check out more activities nearby in the 6 Amazing Things to Do in Ashhurst.

Location: 15 minutes from Palmerston North. Cambridge Avenue, Ashhurst.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

26. Mt Lees Reserve Walk (25 Minutes Loop)

Loop around this 2km (1.2-mile) sheltered bushwalk with the sound of tui echoing through the trees. There are multiple short sidetracks for some more exploration. The Mt Lees Reserve also has barbecue facilities so spend the afternoon the Kiwi way! Camping is also permitted.

Location: 20 minutes from Palmerston North.

Maggie Vine© Maggie Vine


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Laura S.

This article has been reviewed and published by Laura, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Laura is a first-class honours journalism graduate and a travel journalist with expertise in New Zealand and South Pacific tourism for over 10 years. She also runs travel guides for five of the top destinations in the South Pacific and is the co-host of over 250 episodes of the NZ Travel Show on YouTube.

Was this article useful?


Recommended For You