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-> Map of Manawatu

Our Manawatu travel tips:

  • Manawatu region - Rangitikei RiverBoth the main railway between Auckland and Wellington as well as State Highway 1 pass through the rural Manawatu region
  • Manawatu has its own three scenic highways, the Stormy Point Route (Vinegar Hill to Feilding), the Iron Gates Route (Rangiwahia to Apiti) and the Horowhenua Experience (Foxton to Palmerston North)
  • You'll find plenty of the 'real New Zealand' - lovely people everywhere and hilly green countryside
  • Palmerston North is the biggest city, but there are many other cute little towns to discover
  • The wind farms are quite spectacular if you have never seen any before

Country life and fresh-air adventures

Authentic New Zealand experiences, a picturesque sea-to-mountain landscape and memorable countryside journeys characterise the Manawatu region.

Expect to spend a lot of time outside, because the geography has inspired an exciting choice of mild, medium and wild adventures. Rafting, kayaking, horse trekking, mountain biking and rock climbing are just some of the things you can do.

For those who want a taste of country life, it's everywhere you look. Experience the excitement and atmosphere of a real stock auction - one of New Zealand's oldest traditions dating back to the 1880s. Or find a farm stay and meet third and fourth generation farmers with a passion for the land.

Real Kiwi culture comes in many forms here. Garden lovers will enjoy visiting some fabulous private and public gardens, including one of the top five rose gardens in the world. In Palmerston North, you can explore the world's first museum devoted to the rugby or see a local drama production. Around Horowhenua you'll find quirky attractions such as an owl park, a farm devoted to Clydesdale horses, and an operational Dutch windmill.

River adventures: Every river has its specialities. The Rangitikei provides thrills with bungy jumping and rafting, the Manawatu has kayaking in the gorge, and the smaller waterways have hundreds of picturesque places to flick a fly-fishing rod.

Discover the indulgent side of life in the country. Have a massage at a luxury lodge, relax in a wood-fired bath under the stars, make your own therapeutic body product or shop for picnic goodies at the local farmers’ market.

See here for hotels in the Manawatu region.

Source: Tourism New Zealand

Highlights of the Manawatu region

  • Manawatu tips - Taihape - New Zealand travel tipsPalmerston North: This prosperous agricultural centre is also home to one of the leading tertiary institutions in New Zealand, Massey University, which gives the town an energetic student influence. The central square is actually a huge garden fringed with buildings, lots of them attractive old heritage sites. The flat inland setting with its street grid is not really spectacular for visitors, but Palmy compensates this with a range of interesting museums to spend time in, like the Rugby Museum and the combined history, arts and science collections of Te Manawa.
  • Marton, Bulls and Taihape: The sympathetic towns further north also have plenty of heritage buildings, many of them nicely renovated. They are close to the beautiful Rangitikei River valley, an off-the-beaten-track gem. Taihape is the gumboot capital of New Zealand!
  • Fielding and Levin: These smaller and peaceful Manawatu towns near Palmerston North invite with their Edwardian architecture and relaxed atmosphere. Nearby, the Watarere and Hokio beaches are charming as well, but usually don't get many visits by overseas travellers.
  • Wind farms: Here in the roaring forties the wind sweeps so continuously over the Tararua and Ruahine ranges, that the giant wind farms have turned into a tourist attraction by themselves. You can get very close to them on the Saddle Road between Woodville and Ashhurst. 

The best Manawatu walks

  • Manawatu Gorge Loop Track (30 min return), Manawatu Gorge near Woodville
  • Kahikatea Walk (40 min return), Pohangina Valley East Road
  • Palmerston North City Heritage Trail, map from the local i-SITE, Palmerston North
  • Foxton Historical Walk, map from the local i-SITE, Foxton
  • No.1 Line Lookout Track - walk with good views (3-4 h return), No 1 Line Road east of Pohangina

The best Manawatu lookouts

  • Te Apiti Wind Farm Lookout, Saddle Road
  • Stormy Point Lookout, between Feilding and Vinegar Hill, State Highway 54

The best Manawatu museums

  • Te Manawa Museum of Art, Science and History, Main Street, Palmerston North
  • New Zealand Rugby Museum, Main Street, Palmerston North
  • Tokomaru Steam Engine Museum, State Highway 57, Tokomaru
  • Flax Stripper Museum, Main Street, Foxton
  • Coach House Museum, South Street, Feilding

Map of the Manawatu region

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