Palmerston North

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Palmerston North is a city in the Manawatu district of the lower North Island of New Zealand.


Art Deco building in the square

Palmerston North has a population of 80,000, is the seventh largest city in New Zealand and is the largest provincial city in the region. It's the home of the largest campuses of Massey University and the Universal College of Learning (UCOL) and also the International Pacific College (IPC), making Palmerston North a student-oriented city home to 18,000 students. It is also the home of the Linton Military Camp and has the Air Force Base, Ohakea, close by. The Adidas Institute of Rugby, based at Massey University, focuses on improving the skills of the All Blacks, the national rugby union team, though sightings of them there are rare.

Originally named Palmerston, the city was renamed Palmerston North in 1871 by the Post Office to distinguish it from the town of Palmerston in the South Island.

Visitor information[edit]

Information centre

Get in[edit]

Memorial Park

By air[edit]

Palmerston North Airport (IATA: PMR) is on the outskirts of the suburb of Milson and 5 km (3.1 mi) north-east of the CBD. The airport has scheduled domestic operations, charter flights and General Aviation. Road access to the airport is from either Airport Drive or McGregor Street.

Scheduled services[edit]

Airlines Destinations Terminal
Air New Zealand operated by Air Nelson Auckland, Christchurch Domestic
Air New Zealand operated by Eagle Airways Wellington, Hamilton Domestic
Air New Zealand operated by Mount Cook Airline Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton Domestic
Sunair operated by Sunair Gisborne, Hamilton, Napier, Rotorua, Tauranga Domestic

Flights from Air Post, Air Freight, Massey University's School of Aviation, commuter airlines such as Air2there, Air National, Vincent Aviation and Rescue Fire Services use the airport. It is also used for training purposes by RNZAF squadrons based at the nearby Ohakea base.

New Zealand border services are provided at the airport including; NZ Customs Service, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry border management, Quarantine Transitional Facilities. The airport provides the normal NZ Aviation Security Service and has a Air New Zealand Koru Lounge in the terminal.

By road[edit]

Palmerston North is 7 hr by car from Auckland and 2 hr from the capital Wellington. The city is located on State Highway 3 (SH 3), with State Highways 56 and 57 passing close by.

  • From Auckland, follow State Highway 1, turning off onto State Highway 3 at Sanson. You'll approach the city from the north.
  • From Napier and Hastings, follow State Highway 2, turning off onto State Highway 3 at Woodville. You'll approach the city from the east.
  • From Wellington, follow State Highway 1, turning off onto State Highway 57 just south of Levin. North of Shannon, you have two options - continue following State Highway 57 to approach the city from the south, or turn off onto State Highway 56 to approach it from the west.
  • Naked Bus offers the cheapest land transport option into Palmerston North with fares starting at $1 if you book early enough.

By rail[edit]

Palmerston North is also on the main railway line between Auckland and Wellington

Get around[edit]

Palmerston North is built around The Square. Railway lines used to run through the Square, to the station, goods and shunting yards on Main Street west. This proved to be extremely impractical so the station was moved in 1964-66 and the site was subsequently turned into a park, known as the Railway Land. This explains why the roads radiating outwards from the Square are so wide because they used to accommodate the railway tracks. Most places are easily accessible by foot.


One of the advantages of Palmerston North is that it is compact, flat and easy to cycle around. The main educational institutions have cycle-lanes from the city centre. The main route to Massey University along Fitzherbert Avenue is packed with cyclists every morning.


  • Te Manawa396 Main St +64 6 355-5000fax: +64 6 358-3552, e-mail: . Daily 10AM-5PM including weekends and public holidays (except Christmas Day). Combines a museum, art gallery and interactive science center, to create a fusion of life, art and mind. Free admission to Life and Art galleries. Mind galleries: $6 adult, $4 child, $15 family.


  • The Esplanade. Beautiful gardens (including a stunning rose garden), conservatory, walks, strolls along the Manawatu River, picnics, an aviary, playground for the kids, paddling pool, free electric BBQ's and a scenic railway. Victoria House, a historic building (the original Palmerston North's post office) is situated in the grounds. Open from dawn to dusk. The Education Centre and conservatory is open weekdays 10AM-4PM and weekends 12PM-4PM.
  • Lido Aquatic CentrePark Rd (Alongside the Palmerston North Holiday Park and the Esplanade),  +64 6 357 2684, e-mail: . Indoor facility open M-Th 6AM-8PM, F 6AM-9PM. Public holidays and weekends 8AM-8PM. Outdoor facilities open during the summer months M-F 6AM-7PM, weekends and public holidays 8AM-8PM. Covers an area of 1.62 hectares with indoor and outdoor pools, spa pool, toddlers' pool, a diving tower and two hydroslides. Adult $2.50. Child $1.50.
  • DIY Guided Bike Tours, bike while enjoying a fully supplied audio guide commentary
  • Indoor paintball and go karts, 23 Bennett St. Paintball: ☎ +64 6 353 5092. Go karts: ☎ +64 6 353 5082. ( Go kart (fax +64 6 353 5084), [1]. Fun whatever the weather.
  • Manawatu Gorge walking track, Enjoy the beauty and diversity of the New Zealand bush, and views of the spectacular gorge along the way.


  • Check out the specialist boutiques along George Street.
  • Try the malls at the Downtown Complex in Broadway Avenue (with its 8 cinema multiplex) and The Plaza.


Palmerston North has more eating out places per head of population than anywhere else in NZ.

  • Downtown Centre Foodcourt Wide selection.
  • Eon Cafe737 Main St (In the Modena Building),  +64 6 354 5124. 7-4PM. Sandwiches and other snacks.
  • Lone Star Restaurant36 The Square +64 6 355 1986. Lovely food, good value, friendly staff.
  • Monsoon Asian Kitchen200 The Square (opposite the Library),  +64 6 359 2919. Asian. Small but tasty.
  • Mr India Tandoori Restaurant79E George St +64 6 354 5075. Pakistani
  • Pompeii's355 Ferguson St +64 6 359 0059. Italian. Go for the pizza.
  • Restaurant De Coree94 Fitzherbert Avenue +64 6 354 1444. Serves delicious Korean meals. Must try.
  • The Stage Door CafeKing St (Behind the Regent Theatre right next to the stage door),  +64 6 359 2233. Coffee, great food, and retro furniture. Very popular with students from UCOL. Serves Organico coffee; an organic and fair trade blend.
  • Stage Door Cafe now also has a Mini cafe in the UCOL Atrium.
  • Subway69 The Square (below The Fisherman's Table),  +64 6 357 6017.
  • Thai House Restaurant88 Fitzherbert Ave +64 6 357 0883. Good authentic food.
  • Zumak Sushi Bar406 Main St +64 6 353 5441. Japanese and Korean cuisine. $1 off all meals over $10 on Tuesdays.


  • Rose and Crown Olde English Pub743 Main St +64 6 355 3660.


  • Pavilion MotelCnr Fitzherbert Av & Manawaroa St. 17 modern units including studio and 1-bedroom units. All with microwaves and a kitchenette, and 2-bedroom apartments with full kitchens. Most units have spa baths.
  • Avenue Motel116 Fitzherbert Ave (1 min stroll from the CBD),  +64 6 356 3330. On a quiet back section. Private spa pools, free wifi and all units recently are refurbished.
  • Hotel Coachman140 Fitzherbert Ave +64 6 356 5065. Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 10AM. 72 hotel & motel rooms with SkydigitalTV, mini bar. Some studio motel rooms have cooking facilities. Pool, gymnasium and a sauna. Has a bar and facilities suitable for weddings and functions. 24 hr reception&room service, guest laundry. Incorporates La Patio Cafe restaurant [2]. Room prices from $99-$400.

Go next[edit]

The central location of Palmerston North means that it is an easy 2-3 hr drive to the wineries of Martinborough and Hawkes Bay, the skifields of the Central Plateau (Whakapapa and Turoa) and the Art Deco buildings of Napier.

  • Martinborough - visit the Martinborough wineries in South Wairarapa
  • Hawkes Bay - visit the Hawkes Bay wineries, New Zealands 2nd largest wine region that has been producing wines for around 100 years.
  • Whakapapa - skifields
  • Turoa - skifields
  • Napier - full of stunning art deco architecture
  • Wellington - the nation's capital and important harbour in the south of the island
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