For a taste of authentic, farming New Zealand and a rural town alive with arts, culture, and community quality, take a side trip to the township of Feilding, 20 km (12 miles) northwest of Palmerston North.
The Feilding Saleyards, one of the largest livestock sales in the Southern Hemisphere, are close to the Edwardian-style town square. At least twice weekly, sheep and cattle farmers buy and sell more than 15,000 sheep and 1,400 head of cattle. Every Friday
at 11 am the Feilding Saleyards Guided Tour (NZ$10) through the sheep pens and state-of-the-art computerized cattle auction pavilion provides a fascinating glimpse of one of New Zealand's oldest farming traditions.After the tour, visit the rustic Saleyards Café, where the farmers meet for pie and chips, or a toasted steak sandwich. More modern cafés are in town. Other Feilding attractions are the farmers' market (on Friday mornings for organic produce), the Coachhouse Museum (restored vehicles tell of a bygone, pioneering era; NZ$10), and Manfeild Park (which hosts events from motor sports to the annual garden festival in early May). In the town itself you could putter about for half a day through bookshops, art galleries, the community Arts Centre, and Focal Point, the boutique movie theater and café. From Feilding, Kimbolton Road passes through prime sheep-farming country to Kimbolton Village (28 km [17 miles] from Feilding), where there is a café. Close to the village (within a few minutes' drive) are two outstanding gardens with rhododendrons and myriad other plants: Cross Hills (NZ$10; open daily September–May) and Heritage Park Garden (NZ$7; open daily year-round).
Feilding & District Information Centre. For more information, contact this information center. 10 Manchester Sq., Feilding, 4740. 06/323–3318. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.feilding.co.nz.