Experience the laid back atmosphere of rural New Zealand.
Manawatu lies on the southwestern side of New Zealand’s North Island. It stretches over the plains from the Tasman Sea in the west, to the Tararua and Ruahine ranges in the east. The early European settlers in the region were drawn to its flax, which used to be the main source of exports from the country. Today, the region’s fertile alluvial plains are home to pastoral farmlands.
The largest city in the region is Palmerston North which lies to the west of the magnificent Manawatu Gorge, straddling the Manawatu River. The city is a service centre for the surrounding region and is also home to New Zealand’s second largest university, Massey. The town’s attractions include the Science Centre and Manawatu Museum, an art gallery, a rugby museum and a large pleasant park in the centre of the city known as the Square. Just outside the city, the more adventurous can enjoy a jet boat ride through the spectacular Manawatu Gorge.
In the south of the region is Foxton and nearby Foxton Beach. Foxton was originally a base for the flax industry and today visitors can take a tour of the towns historic sights in a horse drawn tram. Nearby Shannon’s Flaxmill Model Township is a scale model village, which represents life in the early days of the region. At the town’s Owlcatraz you can meet some native New Zealand owls, including Owlvis Presley and Owle MacPherson, and a host of other native animals and birds. The attraction also has glowworm caves and a miniature railway.
To the north of the region is the quiet, rural town of Marton, home to some fine old homesteads. A few kilometres to the north, just outside Hunterville, is the Vinegar Hill Reserve. There is swimming and fishing on the Rangitikei River that runs through the reserve, and thrill seekers may like to try their hand at white water rafting.