A pleasant place to visit and to break a journey to or from Wellington, Palmerston North is rarely deemed a tourist destination but is a place offering a friendly, young, relaxed atmosphere of a rural university town. Massey University, the second largest in the country, makes Palmerston North a popular destination for kiwi scholars to migrate to during term time and leaving it a little quiet during vacations!
There are however many hidden treasures in this area including luxurious country retreats, award-winning gardens, uncrowded championship golf courses, antique and country craft fossicking, special interest museums, galleries, historical homes, and a host of adventures for adrenalin junkies. And throughout the year this lively region hosts many major national and international events – sporting, cultural, trade shows, conferences and exhibitions. There has to be something here that tickles your fancy!
For avid rugby fans, a ‘must see’ would have to be the New Zealand Rugby Museum located in Cuba Street near the main city square. With the history of the game immortalised in pictures, mementos and videos, this fascinating collection includes memorabilia from all over the world and from New Zealand itself dating back to the first game played in 1870. Not too far from here, the Science Centre and Manawatu Museum has a mix of interactive science exhibitions, which explore science and technology, the stories of Manawatu and its people, and art from New Zealand and around the world. It also holds events, talks, performances and workshops to bring its subjects alive. Around the corner you will find the spacious and modern Manawatu Art Gallery.
About 35 minutes west of the city, the Ohakea Museum is dedicated to the exploits of the very small New Zealand Air Force. Situated at the air base that dominates this sleepy town, a café allows a great vantage point from which to watch aging military aircraft come and go. And to top that, (!) the Tokomaru Steam Engine Museum (about 20kms south of Palmerston North) exhibits a large collection of working steam engines and locomotives – the Manawatu is definitely a place for the boys!