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Manawatu - Wanganui
This area descends from the volcanic plateau to Wellington and west of the main ranges and is situated on the lower west coast of the North Island. The Wanganui, Rangitikei, Manawatu and Tarurua districts are bound together by magnificent rivers, forested ranges, deep gorges and long stretches of wild surf beach. The region includes the cities of Palmerston North and Wanganui and the towns of Taihape, Hunterville, Feilding, Bulls, Shannon and Levin.


  Although the Manawatu region has extensive coastal plains, the countryside becomes increasing hilly towards the north. Sheep farming and deer and cattle raising are the main farming activities, along with cropping on the lowlands. In the north you will find the rural support town of Taihape, renowned as the "gumboot capital", where every year a festival is held to celebrate this essential item of rural Kiwi footwear.
In the Rangitikei River Valley and surrounding hill country, there are several bed and breakfasts and farmstays to be found, with many old homesteads having magnificent gardens. The university city of Palmerston North is one of the country's larger provincial cities and the central business district is centred on a large leafy square. Many of the original stores built in the 1920s and 1930s have been restored and are now charming boutiques, cafes and great restaurants.
The Wanganui region, except for the rolling coastal lowlands around the city of Wanganui, is very rugged and there are only two winding roads following river valleys up to the volcanic plateau. A large part of the hill country is included in the Whanganui National Park, through which flows the historic Whanganui River, New Zealand's longest navigable waterway. The river was an important means of access for pre-European Maori, European settlers, and for intrepid tourists heading for the central North Island. 
Main attractions
& activities

  From Wanganui visitors can travel up the Whanganui River by jetboat or riverboat into the heart of the Whanganui National Park, or kayak downstream over gentle rapids. There are historic tribal villages along the way, where Maori welcome visitors who want to experience their unique lifestyle and cultural traditions. There's a wonderful scenic daily mail bus trip up the river road to Pipiriki. Wanganui's Old Town Heritage Walk showcases a typical colonial New Zealand town.
In Taihape, the nearby river of Rangatiki supports an excellent trout fishery and there's also bungy jumping, white water and scenic rafting.
Palmerston North is a good base for exploring the many large private gardens in the surrounding countryside. Not far away are also the wild west coast surf beaches of Himatangi, Foxton and Waitarere. The Manawatu river has jetboating and kayaking in the gorge. Visitors can also explore luxury retreats, play golf, ride horses, hunt for antiques and visit the largest stock saleyards in the southern hemisphere. In the Tararua ranges (to the south of Palmerston North) and Ruahine ranges (to the east of Palmerston North), there are several hiking trails to take you far and wide. The Tararua Forest Park offers many opportunities for hikers - both experienced and those wanting pleasant day walks. The beaches are wide and sandy, and the unique dune lakes of Horowhenua and Papaitonga at Levin are rich in Maori history and native fauna.
Owlcatraz, a nature park in Shannon, exhibits a variety of native birds and other animals, including the native New Zealand's morepork (Ruru) owl.
To get there

  Palmerston Norths Airport serves international flights to and from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as domestic flights. Driving time from Palmerston North to Wellington is 2 hours and to Lake Taupo 3 hours, 30 minutes.
Wanganui Airport has daily flights to and from Auckland. Driving time from Wanganui to Lake Taupo is 3 hours, 5 minutes and to Palmerston North 1 hour, 10 minutes. 


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