Palmerston North & Manawatu - Family Friendly Activities


Walks and Picnics

Apollo Park & Butterfly Haven – Apollo Parade, Palmerston North

Based in the Palmerston North suburb of Milson, the park is home to a butterfly sanctuary. This unique butterfly park is a first for Palmerston North and is a great place to see butterflies all year round. Come and learn about the dedicated planting that has been used to attract the butterflies and see how many different butterflies you can spot.

Ashurst Domain and Wetlands – Napier Road, Ashhurst
Ashhurst Domain allows you to discover lush natural surrounds echoing with rich birdsong in one of Manawatu’s precious remnants of native bush. This is the perfect spot for bushwalking, cycling, camping, bird watching, walking your dog or just taking in the scenery.  Stand on the Wetlands viewing platform and see what birds you can spot, or view the mighty Te Apiti Wind farm in the distance. With picnic and barbecue areas, public toilets, campground and extensive playgrounds, this is a great destination for the whole family.

Bruce Park Loop Track - Silverhope Bush Road, Hunterville.

Time: 20 minutes to 1 hour (loop track).   Fitness Level required: Low.  Driving Time: 45 minutes
Features: In the heart of this reserve you will find the memorial to Robert Cunningham Bruce, a conservationist who gifted the district several forest patches including this one. The track follows a figure-eight formation ending where you start. It is suitable for a baby buggy if you are prepared to lift the buggy over the stiles and the dozen or so steps at the beginning.

Manawatu Riverside Pathway (formerly known as The Bridle Track)
This flat to undulating riverside pathway is perfect for littlies, pushchairs, bikes and more.  Experience the ever-changing views of the Manawatu River and its surrounds on this open, flat walkway, which follows the River from the end of Maxwells Line through to Riverside Drive.  Nearly 10km in length, numerous access points allow for the option of shorter walks.

Himatangi Beach
A picturesque black sand beach, kids love creating teepees with the plentiful driftwood. Swim between the flags, try your hand at fishing or check ou the great playground, explore the sand dunes , try the diy mini golf course or book in to the award winning holiday park. The local store does awesome fish n’ chips too!

Kahikatea Walk
The Kahikatea Walk is a nice slow 30 minute walk, ideal for families. If you are walking clockwise the path drops to a bridged stream then climbs steeply for a short stretch. See the big rata tree with it's host tree rotting in its clasp. There are views over the Pohangina valley, then the path leads past a large rimu to a magnificent stand of Kahikatea.

Kowhai Park – South Street, Feilding
Kowhai Park is a large park with includes bird aviary, duck pond, rose garden, monarch butterfly garden, camellia walk and much more. Popular with all ages, the Kowhai Park Aviary has bred a number of bird species and cared for birds donated by private individuals and organisations. Within the park there are a number of significant native trees, such as Totara, Matai and Kahikateas.

Memorial Park – Napier Road, Palmerston North
Memorial Park offers a wide range on activities for the whole family - feed the ducks, cool off in the paddling pool on a hot summers day and explore the playgrounds. Kids can scooter or bike around the pond, and large grassy areas are perfect for picnicking and playing cricket. Memorial Park also houses a Liberty Swing, which is a wheelchair friendly swing available for use, all you need to do is pick the key up from the Palmerston North City i-SITE, in The Square.

Mt Lees Reserve and Walk - Ngaio Road, Halcombe
Located in a beautiful rural setting, this unique scenic reserve offers visitors the chance to explore and enjoy the tranquil surrounds. The sheltered bush walk has two main loop trails. One that loops the bush gully (1.8 km long) and another longer loop that follows the boundary of the Reserve (3 km). Many native birds inhabit the reserve - Kereru (wood pigeon), Morepork. Grey Warblers, Fantails, Tuis, Bellbirds, Wax Eyes and Kingfisher. There are picnic areas, public toilets, childrens play areas and a summerhouse.

Pohangina Wetlands – Pohangina Road, Pohangina Village
What once was farmland struggling to survive on very wet land has now been developed into a beautiful wetlands! Follow the wide grassed pathways through the Pohangina Wetlands and see the native bird life. Native grasses, bush and trees are aplenty here, surrounding the many ponds of all shapes and sizes. The wetlands are in a ‘Charitable Trust’ to keep it as a wetlands habitat. It is free to visit, just park roadside, follow the signs and stick to the pathways.

Sledge Track – Kahuterawa Road End, Palmerston North
Starting off as a nice, easy walk ideal for children and families, the Sledge Track offers a great escape into the wild without travelling too far. Walking the track you will see waterfalls and swimming holes, as well as stunning rock formations in the river and scenic picnic spots. After the first 30 minutes or so, just past the Argyle Rocks, the track gradually steepens and is better suited to experienced walkers and hikers. For competent trampers, heading right up to the Elevation (1.5 hours in) and onto the Platinum Mines (3 hours in) past a number of old mineshafts makes for a satisfying trek into some of the regions most spectacular scenery.

Totara Loop Track, Te Apiti - Manawatu Gorge - Ballance Gorge Road, Manawatu Gorge East
An easy loop track suitable for all ages, kids love exploring this easy and safe walking track that includes several short sections of boardwalks. The many tree species feature forest interpretation plaques written by local primary school children. Nearby Bridge Café is family friendly, including a sandpit and kids menu.

The Square – CBD, Palmerston North
A beautiful inner city park with picnic tables, parking, an information centre, historic monuments, the iconic clock tower and surrounded by shops, restaurants and cafes. Check out the giant chess set beside the butterfly shaped duck pond.

Victoria Esplanade – Park Road, Palmerston North

This local favourite is a beautiful and extensive inner city park adjacent to the Manawatu River and comprises of 19 hectares of stunning gardens and features, including bird aviaries, nature trails with a number of walks, a large duck pond, free barbeque facilities and children’s paddling pool and playgrounds. The onsite café offers tasty treats, ice-cream and drinks, while an extensive miniature railway offers rides on weekends and holidays for a small fee. Within the esplanade is the Dugald McKenzie rose garden, which is home to over 5,500 varieties and incorporates the International Rose Trial Grounds.



Daytona Indoor Raceway
Race around the indoor kart track on a 200cc kart.  Petrol heads will love the computerised race meetings, Formula One lap timing, teams racing and casual racing.

Esplanade Scenic Railway
A miniature railway that travels through 2.2km of native bush, park land and a children's playground.  The ride takes about 20 minutes.

Fieldings Lions Club Mini Golf
A picturesque themed mini golf course in central Feilding.  Open weekends and school holidays from 10am-6pm (weather permitting).

Flip City
A purpose-driven 973 m2 industrial building filled with interconnected trampolines from the floor to the walls! You can go bounce-crazy here, with a foam pit, jumping walls, trampoline courts and even a half pipe. Check out the the coffee and kids sessions too, and the onsite cafe.

Freyberg Community Pool
A 25m pool (2m deep at one end) and a toddlers' paddling pool and paddling beach.  Facilities include a shop that stocks aquatic gear.

Lido Aquatic Centre
A swimming complex with indoor and outdoor pools, a gym, sauna and shop.

Lollipops Playland
A safe and fun indoor playground with a cafe for children and parents to enjoy.

Makino Aquatic Centre
Heated indoor and outdoor pools, including one for toddlers.

Manawatu Gorge
There are many ways to experience the scenic beauty of Manawatu Gorge including jet boating, kayaking, steam train, walking or hiking.  The Gorge, like much of New Zealand lies on the meeting point of the Indo-Australian and Pacific plates.  The mountain ranges tilt up to the East, which over time has blocked all West flowing rivers except for Manawatu River.

Enjoy a guided tour through native bush and meet our native owls (morepork), the Oha Kune pig, the friendly Jerusalem donkey, ostriches, red deer and many more rare and interesting animals.  Other attractions include ye old Shannon Jail and Lake Owlsmere.

Railway Land - Skate and Bike Park
A large open space in the CBD of Palmerston North City, named Railway Land because it used to be the site of the City's railway station.  Facilities include a skate and bike park.

Te Manawa
Te Manawa is the only institution of its kind in New Zealand to unite a museum, art gallery and interactive science centre.  The constantly changing exhibition programme features our national and international collections as well as innovative hands on interactive shows.

The Herb Farm Gardens and Cafe
Elves, gnomes and fairies live in the gardens and the Herbitton Garden is a great feature that kids love. Enjoy the 14 themed gardens with a self guided tour.

Timeless Horse Treks
Horse trekking and clydesdale horse drawn wagon riding adventures.

Information courtesy of Palmerston North City and Manawatu iSite

Map of New Zealand
  • Central Otago
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Coromandel
  • Dunedin
  • Gisborne
  • Fiordland
  • Hawkes Bay
  • North Canterbury
  • Manawatu
  • Nelson & Golden Bay
  • Northland
  • Marlborough Sounds
  • Rotorua
  • Queenstown
  • Taranaki
  • South Canterbury
  • Taupo
  • Southland
  • Waikato
  • Wanaka
  • West Coast
  • Whangarei
  • Bay of Islands
  • Tauranga
  • Gisborne
  • Hamilton
  • Napier
  • Kapiti
  • Palmerston North
  • Whanganui
  • New Plymouth
  • Arrowtown
  • Te Anau
  • Akaroa
  • Ashburton
  • Hanmer
  • Kaikoura
  • Methven
  • Mt Cook
  • Oamaru
  • Tekapo
  • Timaru
  • Abel Tasman
  • Motueka
  • Nelson Lakes
  • Blenheim
  • Picton
  • Catlins
  • Gore
  • Stewart Island
  • Central Plateau
  • Invercargill
  • Cromwell
  • Greymouth
  • Hokitika
  • Westport
  • Glenorchy

Our favourite destinations…

Auckland destination2


New Zealand’s economic heart and biggest city is also an exciting family visitor destination, situated on a sunny harbour with city beaches just minutes away from the CBD. Orientate yourself by heading down to Viaduct Harbour, wandering the waterfront, checking out the super yachts or enjoying the waterfront restaurants. Nearby is the must-visit Sky Tower along with excellent and kid-friendly museums and tons of exciting activities!


Wellington is New Zealand’s capital. Here you will find New Zealand's parliament buildings, including the 'Executive Wing', more well-known as 'The Beehive' due to its distinctive shape. Another icon to look out for is the Wellington Tram, which was the main means of public transport between 1878 and 1964.


With a population of around 400,000 Christchurch, in Canterbury, is the South Island ’s largest city, yet much of it has the feel of a small town. Perhaps that’s why it’s known as the Garden City but with the expansive Hagley Park, Botanic Gardens, Port Hills, River Avon and numerous beaches the city certainly has an open, relaxed feel that’s hard to beat.


With its well-deserved reputation as New Zealand’s activity adventure capital you’ll never run out of activities and things to do in Queenstown, but you may run out of time! With breathtaking scenery, activities and festivals, cafes and restaurants, skiing and snowboarding, shopping and wineries, this lakeside alpine resort rates as one of the world’s top vacation destinations for all ages and seasons.


Rotorua sits on the shore of Lake Rotorua, one of sixteen lakes in the area formed by hundreds of thousands of years of eruptions from the Taupo Volcanic Zone. The area is renowned for its geothermal activity and top of any activity list is to see the bubbling mud pools that are around the region for yourself. The Waimangu Volcanic Valley offers a first hand insight into the devastation caused by the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera and is a great place to discover steaming volcanic craters and bubbling, spitting  pools of mud!

Nelson and Golden Bay

The Nelson and Golden Bay regions, at the top of the South Island, boast enviable sunshine hours, glorious sandy beaches, safe swimming spots, lots of wildlife to look out for, and Abel Tasman National Park - an absolute must to explore, on foot, by kayak, your own craft or watertaxi.  Nelson is home to a vibrant arts and crafts community with a fabulous Saturday market, and is close to award-winning wineries and family-friendly bike tracks to take you around the coast.

Hawkes Bay

Napier was rebuilt after the 1931 earthquake and is now known as NZ's Art Deco City.  The Art Deco influence has created a unique city – nowhere else can you see such a varied concentration of art deco style. With over 2,200 sunshine hours a year, Napier is a year-round holiday destination with countless activities to entertain the kids – there's days of entertainment on Marine Parade alone, plus numerous other family-friendly trips and activities.  Add to that the beaches, walks and flat cycle paths, outdoor cafes and entertainment, and you have a perfect holiday destination!


Beautiful, unspoiled beaches, fishing, historic gum fields, kauri forests – the Far North has it all. With subtropical temperatures, it's often known as ‘the Winterless north', with warm, humid summers and mild winters.
Gateway to the Bay of Islands, Paihia is a pretty, lively beachside town and a perfect base for your family holiday. It’s your start point for Bay of Island adventures including day cruises, sailing, kayaking, swimming with dolphins and reef or wreck diving.