🚗 self-drive itinerary
🛏️ minimum 2 night stay recommended
🍽️ dining suggestions offered
📅 visit any time of year
For those who want a taste of country life, it's everywhere you look. Authentic New Zealand experiences, a picturesque sea-to-mountain landscape and memorable countryside journeys characterise any visit to the region.
Highlights can include:
- Te Manawa is a regional cultural centre where art, heritage and science themes dominate - exhibitions explore the past; seek to inform today and pose questions about tomorrow 🔍
- kids of all ages will appreciate a break in your road trip at Levin Adventure Park which offers excellent park facilities for a range of ages 👪
- visit the New Zealand Rugby Museum, home of one of the best collections in the world devoted to rugby and all its heritage 🏉
- delight kids of all ages with an interactive visit to an imaginary English town at Middleton Model Railway 🚂
- meet Owlvis Presley and Owle MacPherson at Owlcatraz a haven for many different creatures including NZ's Native Owl, the Ruru 🦉
- nature trails, leafy walkways bird aviaries and stunning rose gardens make Victoria Esplanade Gardens an iconic park in Palmerston North 🌹
- Iron Gates Gorge is a narrow chasm where a river squeezes between the walls of sheer sided cliffs - a memorable 4-5 hour hike 👟
- showcasing rural heritage Coach House Museum is home to an outstanding collection of historic vehicles, farm implements and displays 🚜
- car enthusiasts will flock to Robertson Holden International Speedway to see stock cars race, promising plenty of excitement 🏁
- each Friday artisan food producers sell their locally grown produce at the Feilding Farmers' Market in the charming town of Feilding 👨🌾🛍️
- Tui HQ in Mangatainoka offers beer lovers a chance to taste and watch brewing in action accompanied by some tasty Kiwi food 🍺
- the full size De Molen Windmill is also home to The Dutch Market and allows visitors a slice of the Netherlands in the little town of Foxton 🌷
- the phenomenal views at Stormy Point Lookout are a popular stop when driving through the countryside with views stretching to volcanoes Mount Taranaki and Mount Ruapehu on the horizon 📸
- time your drive through the town of Dannevirke right and you can see fairy tales and nursery rhymes come to life at Fantasy Cave 👪
- high above the river and gorge, the Manawatu Gorge Track is covered in ancient forest and native birds provides an awe-inspiring experience 👟📸
- the large Cross Hills Gardens + Nursery includes one of the world’s finest collections of rhododendrons and azaleas - dazzling colour in October and November each year 🌼
- Focal Point Cinema is an award winning boutique movie theatre in the towns of Levin and Feilding with fully licensed coffee and wine bar 🍿🥂
- home of 100% natural skincare and healthcare products The Herb Farm features themed gardens and a café in addition to its retail shop 🌿🌱
AT A GLANCE
📍 # of Visitors 2.5
🐚 Beaches 4.5
🌦️ Chance of Rain 3.5
👨👩👦👦 Family Fun 3.5
🛒 Shopping 7.0
🍽️ Food + Wine 4.5
🏳️🌈 LGBTQI+ friendly 👍
Note: the highest possible score is an 8.0
🎥video courtesy of ManawatuNZ on YouTube
Sit back and relax. We've planned it all for you.
Day 1 : Arrive in the Manawatu
You'll travel to this region by car, coach, train or by flying into Palmerston North Airport. Upon arrival you'll check in to your accommodation, settle in and get acquainted with your surroundings for the next 2 nights.
Slow down the pace of your busy trip with a well-earned break from the constant travelling. The longer you stay in the Manawatu, the more quintessential typically ‘Kiwi’ moments you’ll come across. Enjoy your afternoon with a walk around either the Cross Hill Gardens with an amazing variety of colour (especially in Spring), or instead enjoy one of the nature trails and take in the stunning rose gardens at Victoria Esplanade Gardens. Later on you could stay with the garden theme by exploring The Herb Farm and sample some of the natural health products created on site.
Then after dark, take time out from your trip and escape with a wine in hand and film on the silver screen at Focal Point Cinema in either Feilding or Levin.
Day 2 : rugby, beer and Kiwi heritage
Fans of New Zealand's All Blacks, our national rugby team, will get a kick out of the New Zealand Rugby Museum, devoted to the sport we Kiwi's can't get enough of.
Right next door is Te Manawa a museum of art, science and history with free admission that is bound to capture your interest with an interactive, ever-changing range of exhibits and events. If you're a fan of machinery and farming, head along to The Coach House Museum showcasing rural history, much of the unique collection restored to its former glory.
Active adventurers will want to tackle one of the Te Apiti - Manawatu Gorge Tracks - our favourite is the Tawa Loop which takes around 2 hours and will give you the chance to meet Whatonga, a gigantic statue in the forest. If you're keen to get a little more intrepid, the more challenging Iron Gates Gorge is a memorable hike that crosses a river a few times, so make sure you check on weather before heading out for your on foot adventure.
No matter what you've done with your day, it's always 5 o'clock somewhere, so make sure you spend some time at Tui HQ in Mangatainoka. Named after a native bird, Tui's range of beer is a household name in New Zealand. Take the brewery tour and trace the brewery's 125+ year history, see iconic landmarks and walk through the new state of the art brewery, before finishing up and tasting your choice of beer straight from the tap.
Time your trip to include a Friday if you're a foodie, as you'll want to take in Feilding Farmers' Market, or include a Saturday night in summer for family fun being entertained at Robertson Holden International Speedway.
After your days events, we've arranged for you to delight in dinner and celebrate your last night in this region at one of our favourite restaurants in the area.
Day 3 : Depart the Manawatu
Driving through the Manawatu countryside to your next destination can be an unexpected treat, especially if you take the time to break up your journey with stops along the way. Take in the breathtaking views at Stormy Point Lookout, meet Owle Capone and get up close to NZ wildlife at Owlcatraz, get a taste of Holland at Foxton’s De Molen Windmilland Dutch Market, or sample award-winning Cwmglyn Farmhouse Cheesewhile enjoying the fun of Middleton Model Railwaynext door - a favourite for 'kids of all ages'. We'll let you know the best way to get from this region to the next part of your New Zealand trip, wherever you want that to be.