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Itinerary for a Family Holiday in Manawatū

Itinerary for a Family Holiday in Manawatū

Jet boats, gardens, go-karts and cinemas, Palmerston North is the ideal destination for a family weekend away with enough outdoor and indoor activities to keep the whole family engaged and creating some fantastic memories.

If you're looking for an itinererary packed with things to do in Palmerston North with the family, read on below and then put into action.


3 days


- Himatangi Beach
- Victoria Esplanade
- Cloud 9 Trampoline Park


Day 1.

Wake up on Day One of your holiday and pack up the whānau, head out to Himatangi Beach only 30 minutes away from the city centre.

Himatangi Beach is located on the West coast and is ideal for fishing, walking and kayaking. While you're there check out the rugged driftwood huts or make your own to have a picnic in, and explore the massive sand dune field, said to be the largest one in Aotearoa at over 20 kilometres long.

The local fishing club runs restaurant nights, while the local store offers coffees, takeaways, fresh baking and everything else a good kiwi dairy has. The kids will love the adventure playground, concrete skating rink and the mini golf area. Himatangi beach is a great trip all year round, even in winter when your can rug up, have some fish and chips on the beach and watch the waves roll in. The beach can be driven on if you have a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

On your way back to the city don't forget to stop at Waireka Honey Centre for some honey ice cream! The perfect way to end a day spent at the beach.  

Day 2.

The next day, have breakfast at Café Cuba. The baked goods cabinet is bursting with amazing slices and cakes, and on the menu, you’ll find some of their top dishes like the classic eggs benedict (with bacon, salmon, vege or even southern fried chicken!), campfire smash, or a ‘baby Cuba breakfast for the kids. The delicious Havana coffee brewed here means you can also receive your hallowed caffeine fix, ready for the big day ahead. From there it’s a 5-minute drive to the Central Energy Trust Wildbase Recovery. This amazing place with lushly planted aviaries and water features is a world-class wildlife centre for rehabilitating injured native species, some having received treatment at Massey University’s Wildbase Hospital. At any given time you might see recovering kahu (harrier hawk), kererū (wood pigeon), ruru (morepork), shining cuckoo, penguins among many other species. You’ll also be able to see the resident animals, that are part of a captive breeding programme. The volunteers will guide you around and entertain you with their deep knowledge of the species and rehabilitation programmes. If you’ve got your bikes on the back of the car, now’s a good time to cycle or walk the river pathway beginning at the Victoria Esplanade. Alternatively, stay for a play in the Victoria Esplanade. Here there are mature trees, aviaries, playgrounds, a miniature train ride, a Junior Road Safety Park, paddling pool and incredible rose gardens. It is in these rose gardens we suggest you have a picnic lunch.  After this, it’s a 5 minute drive to go see a boutique movie at Focal Point Cinema. The café there is top-notch: have something to eat beforehand or take food with you to the cinema. The perfect end to a Palmy day is to have dinner at Pompeii Pizza. Another 3 minutes’ walk from Focal Point, this pizza joint has incredibly friendly service and has the most delicious topping combinations on their gourmet woodfired pizzas. 

Day 3.

The next day have breakfast at Café Jacko, a much-loved Palmerston North café with amazing chefs: the pancakes, French toast, omelettes, and more are consistently top-notch, as is the coffee.  Jump in the car and drive 25 minutes out to Woodville Ferry Reserve. From here, you’ll get the thrill and excitement of hurtling through the scenic Manawatū Gorge on a V8-powered jet boat! The massive boulders, sheer cliffs and single chutes will pass by in an exhilarating blur. Next, it’s on to The Herb Farm. This beautiful garden and café combo has 14 themed gardens on more than 2 acres. The kids will love exploring the gardens and spotting the fairies, elves, and gnomes. Once they’ve worked up an appetite, have lunch at The Herb Farm café, tucking into some locally-sourced, free-range and organic fare. You might like to browse the natural skincare products for sale too – handcrafted on site and free of synthetics. If the weather’s nice, exploring the Ashhurst Domain (7-minutes drive from the Herb Farm) should be next on your list. There’s a great playground here, but also myriad beautiful walking tracks through the bush, with access to the Manawatū River, and a wonderful wetland with a bird-watching platform. If it’s raining, drive back to Palmerston North to get your fix of some high-octane thrills in go-karts at Daytona Indoor Raceway, or bounce the afternoon away at Cloud 9 trampoline park. With a busy, classic Manawatū day like this, the perfect way to finish would be a quick 2-min drive to Shakeout, to grab burgers for dinner.

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