Palmerston North Travel Guide

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Palmerston North

On the banks of the Manawatū River, nestled between the dramatic Tararua and Ruahine mountain ranges, the city of Palmerston North on New Zealand’s North Island is renowned for its scenic landscapes, vibrant arts and culture and fascinating heritage.

Pamlerston North, New Zealand

Explore ancient native bushwalks and bike trails, discover urban street art and contemporary galleries, and dine out at renowned restaurants and cafes.

Things to do in Palmerston North

Affectionately known as ‘Palmy’ by locals, or its Māori name Papaioea, the city of Palmerston North is young, innovative and packed with things to do to suit all tastes. For rugby fans, check out the huge range of sporting memorabilia at the New Zealand Rugby Museum. Discover the history, stories and myths of New Zealand’s beloved national game and test out your rugby skills in the ‘Have a go’ area.


If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of free activities too. Explore the Manawatū Riverside Walkway on bike or foot, a 10km shared pathway that winds through beautiful forests, gardens and picnic spots with views of the city. The Te Manawa Museum of Art, Science & Heritage, next door to the Rugby Museum, is free to enter with fascinating local European and Māori history on offer. In the streets around the Square you’ll also find public sculptures, galleries and vibrant street art in the heart of the city.

Palmerston North is also known for its beautiful gardens and parks, from the English village green of the Square to the Victoria Esplanade Gardens’ gorgeous duck pond, rose gardens and show of cherry blossoms in spring. There are also many grand private gardens in the surrounding countryside that are open to the public, while north of the city you’ll find the spectacular Manawatū Gorge, with waterfalls, forested hills and native bushland to explore.

Food and wine

Surrounded by rich and fertile farmland, Palmerston North is a hub of farming and food production, delivering gourmet foodie experiences, award-winning restaurants and renowned international eateries. Take your pick from Japanese, Vietnamese and Cambodian to Mexican and South African cuisines, as well as humming hotspots for breakfast, lunch and quality coffee.

Stroll through colourful farmers markets and sample artisanal breads, cheese and preserves along with fresh locally-grown produce or take a wine tour of the nearby Martinborough and Wairarapa wine regions. Head to lively neighbourhood bistro The Fat Farmer in Hokiwato Village for sharing plates and cocktails or relax over a nightcap at homegrown brew pub and eatery the Brew Union Brewing Co.

How do I get to Palmerston North?

Palmerston North is located 125 kms north of Wellington on New Zealand’s North Island, with the drive taking 1hr and 45 mins. Trains and buses run regularly from Wellington, making the trip in just over 2 hours. Auckland is 512 km north and a 6hr and 20 min drive, with bus and train services operating. You can also fly into Palmerston North International Airport, with flights connecting with Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Top things to do in Palmerston North

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