The teenage years are for having fun, pushing out of the comfort zone, and making great memories – there’s no shortage of things do in Manawatū for teens, from epic watersports adventures to hiking in spectacular landscape, to horse trekking, e-skateboarding and indoor go-karting. Check out the ideas below.

Off the Loop Wakeboard Park

With no boat required, this wakeboarding park tows riders on a wakeboard around a freshwater lake, via a cable. Go for the sheer experience of learning to cruise along the water on a board, or up the adrenalin and try out some of the obstacles and jumps. You can also try out Stand Up Paddleboarding, or the brand-new floating inflatable aqua park obstacle course with 4m-high towers.

Off the Loop Wakeboard Park

Arapuke Mountain Bike Park

For well-maintained trails through regenerating forest, head south of Palmerston North for these 30km of amazing mixed trails. There’s lots of downhill too for those that like fast flow, as well as a paid shuttle to get you up on top. The trails themselves are free to use but an online donation to help with maintenance is always appreciated by the club.

Arapuke Mountain Bike Park

Street art on e-skateboards

Palmerston North is increasingly filled with edgy street art, many from prominent artists. What better way for your teens to appreciate the art than to travel around the city viewing it on electric scooters or skateboards? They can be hired from Electric Bikes Plus, and some of the best pieces can be found with the Street Prints Papaioea 2020 Map.

Street Art

Wake.X Jetskiing

For the over-16s, why not rent a bunch of jetskis, heading out on a supervised 2.5-hour scenic tour of the beautiful Manawatū River? Launching from the boat ramp at the Manawatū Boat Club in Foxton, you’ll head up-river in a safe and controlled group environment (with professional jet ski tour guides), but still get to experience plenty of full-throttle straights and swooping corners on glassy water.

Wake.X Jetskiing

Wind Warriors kitesurfing

Learning to kitesurf as a teen has so many benefits: it improves coordination, balance, concentration, reactions and core muscles, it’s social, and it’s very cool. Foxton Beach is magic for kitesurfing, with 22km of hard sand beach with small surf, and the largest flatwater estuary in the lower North Island. It’s the ideal place to get started, and Wind Warriors offers lessons for powerkiting, kitesurfing, kite landboarding, kite bugging and Stand Up Paddleboarding, with qualified instructors.

Wind Warriors kitesurfing

Rangiwahia Hut Track

For a free 2-3 hour walk (one way), just one hour from Palmerston North, this is a winner! Head up through beautiful beech forest and onto the tops of the Ruahine Ranges, with waving tussock and incredible views out over the central plateau and Manawatū plains below. As another idea, why not pack sleeping and cooking supplies, and give the teens a hut experience by staying overnight at the 13-bed DOC hut. It’s an incredible location and fantastic first hut experience, with a wood burner, clean toilets, and spectacular views. Bookings can be made online November through April (outside of these months, it’s first in first served – check online for hut fees too).

Rangiwahia Hut Track

Horse trekking at Table Flat Farm or Makoura Lodge

Riding well-trained horses through incredible natural Manawatū scenery is many teenagers’ dream! Head to Āpiti (1.5 hours north of Palmerston North) for some horse action. Table Flat Trekking is a 600-acre sheep farm – they specialise in groups of 4 or less, and horse treks can be 45 minutes or up to 3 hours, taking in farmland, pine forest, native bush, and depending on experience levels, you may be negotiating swamps, steep banks, or a 1000-foot ridge. It’s a real backcountry adventure. Makoura Lodge is another Āpiti horse trekking outfit, with one-hour treks through farmland, native bush, waterfalls and rivers. Check out the lodge and its surrounds while you’re there – it really is a special corner of the world.

Makoura Lodge

Four-wheel driving at Makoura Lodge

Makoura Lodge also allows you to get amongst its scenic farmland and rivers in an exhilarating 4WD adventure – bundle the teens into the car for the safari option. The trail has been designed to maximise the technical aspect of 4WDing: this means deep mud, exciting river crossings, crazily steep slopes and lots of holes and bumps, all in a powerful 4WD vehicle. With a full license, they can even have a go behind the wheel in the U-drive 4×4 option.

Makoura Lodge

Te Āpiti – Manawatū Gorge Walk

Walking in nature is good for the soul and body – and walking through one of Manawatū’s most significant landmarks is a good place to do it. The trail wends through native bush with rich birdlife, past greywacke cliffs, and from the tops you get awe-inspiring views of the gorge. It’s 11km one-way – you’ll have to organise for someone to pick you up from the other end. Alternatively walk halfway, coming back the way you came, or do the 4km Tawa Loop track.

Te Āpiti – Manawatū Gorge Track

Jetboating with Manawatū Scenic Jet

Your teens might be interested to know the modern jet boat was developed right here in New Zealand in the 1950s, by farmer/engineer Bill Hamilton. He needed a boat that could navigate the shallow, fast-flowing rivers of Canterbury where he farmed – he then took his prototype to the Grand Canyon and stunned the Americans. You can take a ride in a jet boat right here in Manawatū, with the Manawatū Gorge Jet. The v8 engines will hurtle you up the river, past huge boulders and cliffs, and through narrow chutes, with stunning gorge scenery all around. The jetboat departs from the Woodville Ferry Reserve.

Manawatū Gorge Jet Experience

Awastone Rafting or Kayaking

Get some whitewater action in the incredible Mangaweka, with white cliffs towering around you. For the more cautious, the Papa Gorge or Sandstone Gorge trips, lasting an hour or two, are a great introduction to rafting in a beautiful area with lots of rapids, rock fossil areas and swimming pools. For the more adventurous teens, a half-day or even two-day grade 5 whitewater adventure may be the ticket – and cement them as adventurers for life! There are also specialist sit-on-top kayak lessons available, with guides providing gear and instruction before taking paddlers out on the rapids.

Awastone rafting

Daytona Indoor Raceway

Get onto some go-karts and race with some serious speed around an indoor raceway in Palmerston North – most teens will agree this high-octane activity is the perfect way to spend an hour. The staff do a very good safety briefing, and you’ll be happy with the very reasonable prices.

Daytona Indoor Raceway

Cycle He Ara Kotahi

For a real feel of Palmerston North and surroundings, get on the bikes and cycle this brand-new walk and cycle path away from the highways. You’ll see rivers, streams, dairy farms, a pā site, a military camp (listen out for the gun range) and forests with lots of birdlife. The bridge was designed to resemble a fallen karaka tree from above – to remember the stands of karakas that once grew in the area.

He Ara Kotahi

Enjoy the region with your teens – for more ideas, check out Walks in Manawatū and Dining experiences not to be missed.

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