city on the North Island in New Zealand
Oceania > New Zealand > North Island > Manawatu > Palmerston North

Palmerston North (Māori: Te Papaioea) is a city in the Manawatu district of the lower North Island of New Zealand. It's the home of the largest campuses of Massey University and the Universal College of Learning (UCOL) and also the Institute of the Pacific United (IPU), making Palmerston North a student-oriented city.


Art Deco building in the square

Palmerston North has a population of 80,000, of which about 18,000 are students. It is the seventh largest city in New Zealand and is the largest provincial city in the region. 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. Another common name used by the native Māori inhabited is Papaioea.

Visitor information

Information centre

Get in

Memorial Park

By plane

  • 1 Palmerston North Airport (PMR  IATA) (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. Air New Zealand Link operate flights from Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton and Wellington.    

By car

  Note: State Highway 3 through the Manawatu Gorge east of Palmerston North is closed indefinitely due to slips and unstable hillsides. From Napier and Hastings, follow the signposted detour route from Woodville over the Saddle Road to meet SH 3 at Ashhurst. From Masterton, follow the signposted route from Pahiatua over the Pahiatua Track to approach Palmerston North from the south. Allow an extra 15-30 minutes for the detour. For more information, see the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) website.

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 south to Sanson, then follow State Highway 3. You'll approach the city from the north.
  • From Napier and Hastings, follow State Highway 2 south to Woodville, then follow State Highway 3. You'll approach the city from the east.
  • From Wellington, follow State Highway 1 north, 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.

By bus

  • Intercity offers the cheapest land transport option into Palmerston North with fares starting at $1 if you book early enough.

By train


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

Get around

Map of Palmerston North

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 turned into a park, known as the Railway Land. 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.

By bus


Horizons Regional Council has local bus timetables.

By bicycle


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.

  • Centrepoint Theatre, Pitt & Church St, +64 6 354 5740, fax: +64 6 354-5743, . Performances on Tu at 6:30PM, W-Sa 8PM, no performance M. Stages a wide variety of plays. Has a fully-licensed bar plus coffees and desserts.
  • 1 Lido Aquatic Centre, Park Rd (alongside the Palmerston North Holiday Park and the Esplanade), +64 6 357 2684, . 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 $5, child $4.
  • 2 Regent on Broadway, 63 Broadway Ave, +64 6 350 2100, fax: +64 6 350 2108, . Stages many plays. Stunningly refurbished.    
  • Ruahine AFC, . Palmerston North's best youth football games.
  • Victoria Esplanade. Open from dawn to dusk. The Education Centre and conservatory is open weekdays 10AM-4PM and weekends noon-4PM. 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 BBQs and a scenic railway. Victoria House, a historic building (the original Palmerston North's post office) is in the grounds.
  • DIY Guided Bike Tours. Bike while enjoying a fully supplied audio guide commentary
  • Indoor paintball and go karts, 23 Bennett St, +64 6 353 5092 (paintball), +64 6 353 5082 (go karts), . 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.
  • Downtown Complex, 42-60 Broadway Avenue, +64 6 358 3305. Stores M-F 9AM–5:30PM, Sa 9:30AM-4PM, Su 10AM-4PM; Cinema daily 10AM-11PM. Incorporating Event Cinemas (8 screens)
  • 1 The Plaza, 84 The Square (cnr Church Street, parking off Ferguson Street), +64 6 358 1989. M-W & Sa 9AM-5:30PM, Th 9AM-9PM, F 9AM-7PM, Su 10AM-5PM (individual stores may vary). More than 90 stores, including anchors Countdown, Kmart, Farmers and JB Hi-Fi.    

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

  • Barista, 59 George St, +64 6 3572614. 8AM-late. Innovative and interesting casual dining. Best coffee in town.
  • 1 Breakers Cafe & Bar, 168-190 Rangitikei St, +64 6 952-7700. Daily 11AM to late. Small NZ chain of 9 restaurants across the North Island. $15-34.
  • Downtown Centre Foodcourt. Wide selection.
  • Eon Cafe, 737 Main St (in the Modena Building), +64 6 354 5124. 7-4PM. Sandwiches and other snacks.
  • Kruo Thai, Square Edge Courtyard, +64 6 355 1222. Thai.
  • 2 Lone Star Restaurant, 36 The Square, +64 6 355 1986. M-Th 5:30PM to late; F-Su 5PM to late. Tex-Mex restaurant well known for its large meals. $25-38.
  • Monsoon Asian Kitchen, 200 The Square (opposite the Library), +64 6 359 2919. Asian. Small. Tasty food.
  • Mr India Tandoori Restaurant, 79E George St, +64 6 354 5075. Pakistani
  • Pompeii's, 355 Ferguson St, +64 6 359 0059. Italian. Go for the pizza.
  • Restaurant De Coree, 94 Fitzherbert Avenue, +64 6 354 1444. Serves delicious Korean meals.
  • The Stage Door Cafe, King 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.
  • Stage Door Cafe now also has a Mini cafe in the UCOL Atrium.
  • Thai House Restaurant, 88 Fitzherbert Ave, +64 6 357 0883. Good authentic food.
  • 3 Yatai Japanese Izakaya Restaurant, 316 Featherston St (cnr Pirie Street), +64 6 356 1316. Tu-Sa 6PM-late. Warm and welcoming. Great Japanese food and drink.
  • Zumak Sushi Bar, 406 Main St, +64 6 353 5441. Japanese and Korean cuisine. $1 off all meals over $10 on Tuesdays.




  • 1 Pavilion Motel, 262 Fitzherbert Ave (cnr Manawaroa St), +64 6 357 1131, toll-free: 0800 728 454. 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. $115-185.
  • 2 Avenue Motel, 116 Fitzherbert Ave, +64 6 356 3330, toll-free: 0800 116 333. On a quiet back section. Private spa pools, and free wifi. $120-180.
  • 3 Hotel Coachman, 140 Fitzherbert Ave, +64 6 356 5065, toll-free: 0800 262 246. 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. $99-400.
  • Railway Hotel Backpackers, 275 Main St, +64 6 354 5037. from $33.

Go next


From centrally located Palmerston North it's an easy 2-3 hr drive to the wineries of Martinborough and Hawke's Bay, the skifields of the Central Plateau and the Art Deco buildings of Napier.

This city travel guide to Palmerston North is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.