Palmerston North

Palmerston North, halfway between Wellington and Rotorua, is the southern heart of the North Island. The sophisticated, provincial city lies in the breath taking Manawatu region that sweeps from the Ruahine and Tararua mountain ranges, through the magnificent Manawatu Gorge and scenic Pohangina Valley, along Manawatu River to the coastal plains of Tangimoana and Himatangi.

The pulsing city of Palmerston North sparks with energy. This lively university town teems with spirited students and sporting enthusiasts.

Its wide range of educational facilities, including a leading university, polytechnic, and a number of other specialized tertiary education institutes has bestowed a distinctly youthful edge upon the city. The city is also home to the famed Arena Manawatu’s FMG stadium, (which has hosted two World Cup rugby matches), and it boasts premiere teams in rugby, cricket, basketball, hockey and football.

Progressive Palmerston North is partly powered by two major wind farms and has taken a proactive stance on cleaning up and protecting the Manawatū River. This is symptomatic of its strength in smart business research, which has become a key local economy driver, along with its burgeoning biotech, hi-tech and defense sectors.

What is special or unique about your city?
Located on the banks of the Manawatu River and nestled at the foot of the Tararua Mountain Range,
Palmerston North is New Zealand's sixth largest city. A growing city of 78,000, Palmerston North is a vibrant, youthful city. Known as "The Knowledge City," it has several tertiary educational organizations; the largest is Massey University. It also hosts a number of annual national and international shows and events. Most locals and newcomers feel that living in Palmerston North is like having the best of both worlds because it has all the conveniences and technology of big-city life as well as the quality and ease of small-town living.

By road, Palmerston North is a seven-hour drive from Auckland and a two-hour drive from the capital,
Wellington. The city's central location also places it within a couple of hours from wineries, the North Islands Central Plateau skifields, Mount Taranaki, historical Maori sites of the Taranaki region, as well as the rural splendor of the Wairarapa.

Palmerston North has limited congestion and no air pollution, which makes it a great city in which to live.

What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
Most newcomers are amazed by the flatness of the land, the very wide streets and by the greenery.
Most streets have gorgeous trees planted along the length of the entire street, making for a very beautiful sight. People are drawn to the heart of the city, a big, open area known as "The Square." The city is a very easy place to find your way around, which alleviates the normal big-city stress. We think that once you settle in, you will love it!

Are these impressions likely to change?
Palmerston North has a growing population. The city has been designed to grow by building new areas on the outskirts, avoiding any impact to the heart of the city and allowing Palmerston North to keep its easy-flowing nature.

The relaxed lifestyle and great climate is contagious and most people that visit find that they want to stay. Most expatriates that have been lucky to experience Palmerston North report fond memories that last a lifetime.

What is the local language?
English is the official language of New Zealand, however you will also hear Maori spoken, along with other languages from the South Pacific islands and Asia.
Here are a few Maori words that may be fun to learn as well as help you while you are here:

English = Maori

  • hello = kia ora
  • good bye = haere ra
  • please = koa
  • thank you = kia ora rawa atu
  • good = ka pai
  • bad = ka kino
  • help = äwhinatia
  • yes = äe
  • no = käo
  • food = kai
  • water = wai


How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
It would be difficult to live in New Zealand without speaking English, as most New Zealanders only speak English or Maori. There is a wide variety of English language schools throughout New Zealand.

What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
The main thing to remember is to respect the many diverse cultures in New Zealand. To avoid offending, please take note of the following:

  • Casual dress is acceptable and usually preferred in most situations
  • Do not use the "V for victory" sign as it is considered offensive
  • Always try to be on time for appointments. Punctuality is considered good manners.
  • Afternoon tea is between 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. Early evening tea is between 6:00 - 8:00 p.m., and a larger meal is served. Supper is a snack served much later in the evening
  • Tipping is uncommon
  • Cover your mouth if you must yawn, do not chew gum or use toothpicks and please do not spit in public
  • Ask permission before you attempt to photograph someone
  • When meeting someone or departing, use a firm handshake and maintain good eye contact.
  • Avoid confusing or comparing New Zealand to Australia, as they are two distinct countries
  • Remember that New Zealand has strict smoking rules. Smoking is not permitted in any public building or public transport
  • Smoking is not permitted in any bars, cafes or restaurants; smoking areas may be provided outside

How might the local weather affect my daily life?
Because it is located in the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealand's seasons are reverse to those in the Northern Hemisphere. The warmest months are December, January and February and the coldest are June, July and August.

Palmerston North has a temperate climate with daytime temperatures averaging around 22 degrees Celsius in the summer and 12 degrees Celsius in the winter. Palmerston North can experience strong gusty winds at any time of the year and rain is no surprise.

Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
Palmerston North promotes recycling and provides recycling stations. New Zealand has a high regard for its natural beauty and is protective of the flora and fauna. Palmerston North also encourages cycling and offers cycle lanes around the city and out to Massey University.