Palmerston North is the capital of the Manawatu region.
Palmerston North lies on the Manawatu Plains, nestled between the Ruahine and Tararua mountain ranges, in the central southern region of New Zealand’s North Island. The city lies a few kilometers to the east of the magnificent Manawatu Gorge, carved by the Manawatu River through the mountain ranges. The region is one of fertile pastoral farmland and Palmerston North is the main service centre for the region.
The city, named for the British Prime Minister, became prosperous with the building of the main railway line in 1886 that linked the city to Wellington in the south. Today, the city is a busy centre, home to New Zealand’s second largest university, Massey.
Palmerston North is centred on The Square, a large, attractive garden with fountains and trees. It is a pleasant oasis in the middle of the busy commercial district. The city has an excellent art gallery, featuring predominantly modern New Zealand artists. The Rugby Museum is dedicated to New Zealand’s national sport, with a comprehensive range of memorabilia and is a must for rugby lovers. The city’s other museum, the excellent Science Centre and Manawatu Museum, has a range of interesting exhibits including an inflatable hot air balloon, Maori treasures, and a ‘Kids Own’ section. A short drive to the south of the city, the Tokomaru Steam Engine museum has a fine collection of working steam engines.
The Esplanade, a large park near the bridge over the Manawatu River, has riverside walks, gardens, a swimming pool and a miniature railway. The more adventurous can explore the spectacular Manawatu Gorge by jet boat or kayak, a few kilometres to the east of the city. Trips on the river can be arranged in Palmerston North.