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NZ Manawatu Information

Manawatu is part of four districts that together make up the verdant Manawatu - Wanganui region.  On the southwest side of the North Island, Manawatu is centrally located between Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa, Rangitikei and Horowhenua. It is strategically placed to access all four regions, and the second largest region on the North Island.

The land is lush and is an important agricultural plain for New Zealand.  Early explorers found dense forest that they quickly used as a source of timber.  In the early 1900’s, however, the need to conserve the natural resources of the land became apparent to authorities who took steps to preserve the area.  Since then, the Manawatu plains have led in the production of sheep, deer and beer. An interesting note about the population of the area, due to the three military bases in the region, the region has the largest proportional number of people serving in the armed forces.

Palmerston North is one of Matawatu’s main urban centers.  Since Manawatu is largely agricultural, Palmerston North mainly provides services to the country surrounding it.  However, as time moves on, Palmerston North provides the best of both worlds, with the amenities of the city and the charm of the country.  The Te Manawa museum and gallery in Palmerston North is dedicated to preserving the history of the region and has permanent exhibits about the Maori, the pacific, natural history, social history and science & technology. The Gallery collects and exhibits the works of New Zealand artists who are identified with the development of art in New Zealand.

The town of Feilding is the main town in Manawatu. It was named for Colonel William Felding, who founded the town and ran the first general store.  Essentially, the fertile area remains largely agricultural, relying on Feilding to provide services for most of the district.  The peaceful town has neither traffic lights nor parking meters and has received New Zealand’s most beautiful town award twelve consecutive times.  Since 1993 there has been an effort to encourage the restoration of the late Victorian and Edwardian homes that helps to preserve the heritage of the town. The soft country feel of the area is heightened by the charming Bed and Breakfasts and garden retreats.  It is an atmosphere that encourages taking advantage of the decorative gardens and scenic trips on hand.

Farmstays allow visitors to the area to participate in rural life.  While tasks vary, the notably hospitable people of the interest are always willing to share a little of their time and reputedly excellent country cooking. Tiny towns like Sanson and Bulls are filled with cafes, craft shops, and antique stores that primarily serve those passing the town using the state highways.

For a breathtaking view, take the public trail into the Manawatu gorge or travel along the Whanganui River, the longest navigable river in New Zealand, with a canoe safari.   The inexperienced can take a course before kayaking along the Manawatu River while the more experience (and certified) can take a trip all the way to Cape Kidnappers for a breathtaking view of the surrounding cliffs and a look at the nesting gannets that deck the cape.

NZ Manawatu references

AccessNZ - The best authority on New Zealand local information - (2005 - 2006)