In its meandering journey, the rushing water of our gem-blue awa (river) sparkles like tinsel.
It cuts through the Ruahine Ranges, formed the Manawatū Gorge, and is the heart of a recreational nucleus as it carves its way through Palmy. Whether you’re on wheels, on foot or walking the dog, pathways weaving around our awa are becoming a popular with for leisure seekers everywhere, with rewards for everyone. The Manawatū River pathway spans the length of the city, past wooden forts among the trees, mobile gym equipment, mountain biking tracks and a dog park. It’s a shared pathway to be used by walkers, bikes, scooters and even your furry friends. Children seeking an adrenaline rush ride their bikes on the tracks in the forest – at both ends of the city between Albert Street and Ahimate. Nestled among the towering pines are several wooden forts for the ultimate tree hut experience. Halfway along is the “pathway that brings people together”, He Ara Kotahi. Its centrepiece, a 200-metrelong bridge, opened in 2019. It marks the site of a village once known as Mokomoko, occupied by Rangitāne for 300 years, where the biggest battle in the city’s history took place in the 1800s. Thousands of people – men, women and children – were killed in the conflict. The bridge now serves as a permanent reminder of the significance of this site. It leads to 9kms of pathways that give access to other cultural heritage and historic battlefield sites, which make perfect educational rest stops.
Urban Eels Sanctuary
One of those is the Urban Eels Sanctuary, about 2km towards Linton, where people can stand on the platform to observe and feed native tuna (eels), if they dare. Interpretive artwork, sculptures and enhanced native planting all focus on the enduring relationship between early Māori and tuna. As people who relied on seasonal foods, Māori considered tuna a gift from the gods. Sadly, the longfin eel is steadily declining because of the historical destruction and degradation of its habitat. Māori say long-finned eels were once reported to weigh as much as 40kg – today it’s uncommon to see any that are more than 10kg. Urban Eels provides a safe space for tuna, but the platform also helps reconnect urbanites with nature and enables Māori to educate people about the importance of tuna as a historical food source.