How to Plan a Trip to Palmerston North on a Budget
You won’t find many expensive tourist traps in Palmerston North, a city midway between Wellington and the Central North Island. What you will find is an authentic Kiwi city with a wealth of picturesque parks, museums, amazing eateries and all sorts of hikes around. With budget hotels and motels available in town, you needn’t worry about spending too much on accommodation either. So plan an affordable trip to what the locals affectionately call “Palmy” with this travel guide to Palmerston North on a budget.
Budget Tips for Palmerston North
- Palmerston North is a scattered city, so hiring a bike or taking the bus is a cheap way to get around
- Stay in Palmerston North’s budget accommodation, which has motels, budget hotels and limited backpacker hostels and a holiday park – check out some more options in the 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Palmerston North
- Stay in self-catering accommodation to save money on meals by making them yourself!
- Fill up your itinerary with the free and cheap things to do in Palmerston North
- Don’t worry about busy tourist seasons in Palmerston North – there isn’t one! With that, the accommodation and activity prices stay the same year-round.
For more general budget tips, check out the 11 Ways to Save Money When Backpacking in New Zealand.
Free Activities in Palmerston North
With gorgeous parks, walks and a museum, you’ll hardly struggle for free things to do in Palmerston North. A great place to start is Te Manawa Museum of Arts, Science and History. The free museum near the city centre offers an array of interesting exhibitions on Maori taonga (treasure), the Manawatu River and changing temporary exhibitions.
If you prefer to get outside, then an excellent space in the city is Bledisloe Park. It’s one of the last remaining bush remnants in Palmerston North city. Go for a walk and see the Turitea Stream and listen to birdsong. You won’t believe this place exists in the middle of the city.
For more nature, however, take a trip to Manawatu Gorge is home to a network of walking trails among native forest. See amazing views from the lookouts overlooking the Manawatu River and find the giant metal Maori statue hidden in the forest. While you’re in the area, drive or cycle up to Te Apiti Windfarm to stand underneath huge wind turbines.
For more free activities and information, see the 15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Palmerston North.
Cheap Activities in Palmerston North
Got a little bit of budget to spare? You might enjoy these other highlights in Palmerston North…
Alongside the Manawatu River, ride the Manawatu River Pathway which is a shared walk/cycle path. Bike hire typically ranges from NZ$30 for a couple of hours to NZ$50 for the full day so you can enjoy cycling for an affordable price. Ride through Palmerston North’s premier park, Victoria Esplanade, with a rose garden and a native bird hospital, Wildbase Recovery, which is free to visit.
Rugby fans or those who want to understand why New Zealand is so nutty about rugby, head to the New Zealand Rugby Museum. With an entry fee around NZ$13, it’s too cheap to not check it out. See all sorts of rugby memorabilia and take on some of the rugby challenges in the centre of the museum.
And to experience the vibrant community spirit of a Kiwi city, head to one of Palmerston North’s many markets. Try artisan baked goods, Maori bread, condiments and preserves, and browse an array of local crafts. Some highlights include the Albert Street Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings, the Highbury Flea Market (Highbury Shopping Centre Carpark) on Sunday mornings and the Palmy Sunday Market (150 Rangitīkei Street). It’s also worth a quick drive to the neighbouring town of Feilding for their award-winning Feilding Farmers’ Market on Friday mornings.
Need more inspiration for activities? Check out the 15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Palmerston North.
Cheap Eats in Palmerston North
Palmerston North is a bit of a dark horse when it comes to foodie experiences, especially with its food trucks often gracing the local markets or any event happening in the city. You’ll also find some cheap eats, such as Saigon Corner (54 Princess Street) for their irresistible Vietnamese food and their coffee with a naughty dollop of condensed milk.
For some English and Irish food, try the Celtic Inn (73-77 Broadway Avenue) for their hearty steak and chips and full-English breakfasts or Sunday Roast (112 Broadway Avenue) for ultra-filling roast dinners for under NZ$20.
Noodles ‘n Dumplings (21 Coleman Place) is another popular place for their, well, noodles and dumpling but also Asian pancakes.
Finally, head to The Square and indulge in the generous food portions of Turkish Delight – Ali’s Kebab Cafe (15 Fitzherbert Avenue) which also serve authentic “Turkish Delight” for dessert.
For more restaurant recommendations, see The Foodie Guide to Palmerston North.