Manawatu, New Zealand
Explore the green beauty of heartland New Zealand and find the peaceful pleasures created by gardeners and conservationists. There's also plenty of potential for 'scare-raising' adventure.
This area is based around State Highway 1 where it descends from the volcanic plateau to Wellington, west of the main ranges.
As of June 2005, Manawatu's estimated population was 78,400.
Although there are extensive coastal plains, the countryside becomes increasing hilly towards the north. Sheep farming and cattle raising are important activities, along with cropping on the lowlands.
In the Rangitikei River Valley and surrounding hill country, bed and breakfasts and farmstays are a specialty, with many old homesteads having magnificent gardens.
The largest of the villages and towns along the road to Mt Ruapehu and the central plateau is Taihape. It is renowned as the "gumboot capital", where every year a festival is held to celebrate this essential item of rural Kiwi footwear.
The river supports an excellent trout fishery and there's also bungy jumping, white water and scenic rafting.
To the south is the Manawatu region lies the university city of Palmerston North, one of the country's larger provincial cities. The central business district of Palmerston North is centred on a large leafy square where many of the original stores built in the 1920's and 1930's have been restored and are now charming boutiques, cafes and great restaurants. It is a good base for exploring the many large private gardens in the surrounding countryside.
Main Attractions and Activities
On a Health, Herbs and Honey tour you can meet local people who are passionate about growing, harvesting and producing their unique range of natural health, herb and honey products.
Visit Manawatu's glorious lavender and herb gardens, enjoy delicious garden fresh meals, purchase herbal and honey products and indulge in a wonderful relaxing massage or beauty treatment.
At Cross Hills Gardens, Kimbolton you can enjoy a park-like garden that includes one of the world's finest collections of rhododendrons and azaleas - there are over 2,000 varieties on display.
The Fragrant Garden in Feilding is a commercial production nursery specialising in herbs and lavender. Visitors are welcome to visit the display gardens.
In coastal Manawatu you'll find Pukemarama, a classic example of the formal English gardens that were popular in the 19th century.
Ruahine Forest Park is one of a number of small mountain ranges that form the spine of the North Island. The range offers some wonderful forest and alpine walks for those wanting somewhere away from the standard tourist trips.
- Tokomaru Steam Museum, Palmerston North
- Manawatu/Rangitikei garden tours
- Central city cafes and restaurants Palmerston North
- City Art Gallery
- Public gardens, Palmerston North
- Country garden tours
- Palmerston North - a major university city with many country gardens to visit in the countryside