BUG New Zealand travel guidebook
Travel safely with World Nomads travel insurance
Buy your New Zealand SIM card before you travel and save on mobile phone costs
BUG New Zealand travel guidebook


BUG New Zealand travel guidebook

Destination guides > Pacific Islands > New Zealand > Manawatu-Wanganui > Manawatu & Rangitikei > Palmerston North

Palmerston North

Palmerston North is on the banks of the Manawatu River and has a population of almost 80,000, making it the main city in the Manawatu-Wanganui region. “Palmy” is home to Massey University, New Zealand’s second largest, and has a sizable student population, giving it a youthful energy and cultural life.

The heart of Palmerston North is The Square, a 7ha park at the centre of town that includes a war memorial and clock tower. The streets leading into and surrounding The Square are concentrated with restaurants, bars, bookstores, shops, boutiques and theatres. Other attractions in town are the Rugby Museum and Te Manawa, a unique facility that combines a history museum, art gallery and interactive science centre.

Palmerston North is not a major tourist attraction, but it does offer an opportunity to meet and mingle with a big university crowd when school’s in session, and can make for an interesting stopover.

Practical information

Palmerston North i-SITE Visitor Centre

52 The Square, Palmerston North
Tel (06) 350 1922
Website www.manawatunz.co.nz
Open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat-Sun 10am-3pm

Department of Conservation

717 Tremaine Avenue, Palmerston North
Tel (06) 350 9700
Website www.doc.govt.nz
Open Mon-Fri 8am-4.30pm

Palmerston North City Library

Not only does the flash new library have internet access, but there are lockers and showers too.

The Square, Palmerston North
Tel (06) 351 4100
Website http://citylibrary.pncc.govt.nz/
Internet access $6 per hour; showers $1

Coming & going

Palmerston North is located at the crossroads of several air, coach and rail routes and many people pass through here to make transport connections.


Palmerston North International Airport (tel (06) 351 4415) has domestic flights to Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton, Nelson and Wellington. The airport is only 5km north east of the city centre and Super Shuttle (tel 0800 SHUTTLE (0800 748 885)) run minibuses to meet all flights.


InterCity Coachlines (tel (04) 385 0520) go to Auckland, Napier, New Plymouth, Tauranga, Wanganui, Wellington; Nakedbus.com has services to Auckland, Napier, Taupo, Rotorua and Wellington; BayXpress (tel 0800 422 997) goes to Hawkes Bay and Wellington and White Star Bus (tel (06) 759 0197) has services to New Plymouth, Wanganui and Wellington.

Buses stop on Main Street near The Square. InterCity stops on the west side of The Square near the corner of Main and Pitt Streets and most other buses including Naked Bus stop on Main Street just east of The Square. Buses also stop at Massey University.


The daily Overlander train on the Auckland-Wellington line and the Capital Connection service to Wellington stop at Palmerston North. The train station is on Matthews Avenue, about 1km north of The Square.

Hostel accommodation

Grandma’s Place

146 Grey Street, Palmerston North
Tel (06) 358 6928

Pepper Tree Hostel

121 Grey Street, Palmerston North
Tel (06) 355 4054

Eating & drinking

Palmerston North is a big university town and has numerous cheap places to eat and drink that cater to its student population; hence, they’re great for backpackers as well.

Food and nightlife centres on the streets around The Square, the park right at the heart of Palmy. The streets to the west side of the square, particularly George and Cuba Streets, are where most of the bar and café action is. Some popular places include Moxies Café (81 George Street, Palmerston North) and Mao Bar (64 George Street, Palmerston North). Bar Mode (1 Coleman Place, Palmerston North) is the best indie/punk/eclectic live music venue in town, with local and international touring acts passing through. The Fitz Bar (Ferguson Street, Palmerston North), is Palmy’s quintessential student bar.

Supermarkets in Palmerston North include Countdown (corner Ashley & Ferguson Streets, Palmerston North); New World (179-197 Main Street, Palmerston North); Pak’n Save (335 Ferguson Street, Palmerston North) and Woolworths (corner Featherston & Rangitikei Streets, Palmerston North). Pop into Pak’n Save to stock up on picnic fixings to eat in The Square.

Sightseeing, museums & tourist attractions

New Zealand Rugby Museum

The world’s oldest museum devoted to rugby features an extensive collection of rugby memorabilia from around the world.

87 Cuba Street, Palmerston North
Tel (06) 358 6947
Website www.rugbymuseum.co.nz
Admission $5
Open Mon-Sat 10am-noon & 1.30pm-4pm, Sun 1.30pm-4pm

Te Manawa

This excellent regional museum combines exhibits in the fields of art, history and science. It is a well laid out museum with many interactive exhibits.

396 Main Street, Palmerston North
Tel (06) 355 5000
Website www.temanawa.co.nz
Admission ART & LIFE galleries free; MIND galleries $8
Open 10am-5pm daily


This wildlife park focuses on owls, but there are also other animals. Visitors to Owlcatraz go on a guided tour that takes them into the enclosure with the owls. A full tour takes a couple of hours.

State Highway 57, Shannon (½hr south of Palmerston North)
Tel (06) 362 7872
Website www.owlcatraz.co.nz
Admission $10-20
Open 10am-3pm daily

Follow us:

Follow us on Twitter Like BUG on Facebook