Two mountain ranges divided
Only a few hours north of Wellington, the rural heartland of Manawatu sits between the Tararua and Ruahine mountain ranges to the east and the Tasman Sea to the west. An iconic feature in the region, Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge divides the two ranges and has long been an important link to eastern areas in this lower half of the North Island.
Situated on the banks of the Manawatu River, the university city of Palmerston North (‘Palmy’) is the largest centre in the region. From here it’s a short drive to the coast or inland to Manawatu Gorge with it’s scenic walking and biking tracks through ancient native bush. Heading north into the steep and narrow Ruahine range offers more challenging but rewarding hikes.
Top things to do in the Manawatu
Looking for ideas to help you plan the ultimate New Zealand outdoor adventure? Here are some of the top things for active travellers to see and do in the Manawatu region.
Explore Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge
Only 15 minutes from Palmerston North, Manawatu Gorge is an easily accessible outdoor playground. Both one-way and loop walking tracks are available with the Upper Gorge Bridge Track providing spectacular views over the river. Mountain biking is not permitted on walking tracks but there are two designated rides, an intermediate 2 km downhill through native bush and the 41 km / 25 miles Grade 3 Windfarm Ride. Details on both the rides and walks are on the Te Apiti website.
Explore the Ruahine Forest Park
There are a number of roads that lead into the Ruahine Forest Park, each one providing access to a range of walks, from short family-friendly walks to day hikes and multi-day hikes with numerous huts to overnight in. All the information you need is available on the Department of Conservation website.
Ride the Arapuke Forest Park trails
Arapuke is the region’s premier mountain bike park with a growing network of trails from Grade 2 to Grade 5. There are both downhill trails and loop trails and a shuttle service is available from Palmerston North. You can also hire bicycles in the city from Crank It Cycles. A trail map and trail details are on the Arapuke Trails website.