3 Best Sights in Palmerston North, North Island's West Coast


Fodor's choice

For a look at an authentic New Zealand farming town visit Feilding, 20 km (12 miles) northwest of Palmerston North. The Feilding Saleyards Guided Tour is a classic experience. One of the largest livestock sale yards in the southern hemisphere, nearly 30,000 sheep and cattle are sold here every week. Every Friday at 11, a retired farmer will guide you (NZ$10, bookings essential) through the sheep pens and computerized cattle auction pavilion, and explain the secrets of a long-time New Zealand farming tradition. After the tour, visit the rustic Saleyards Café, where farmers meet for pie and chips or a toasted steak sandwich. Other local attractions in the Edwardian-style town square include the Friday morning farmers' market and the Coach House Museum that displays restored vehicles from the pioneering era (NZ$12). You could also putter about the town’s bookshops, art galleries, and boutique movie theater, and café. From Feilding, Kimbolton Road passes through prime sheep-farming country to Kimbolton Village, 28 km (17 miles) away. Within a few minutes' drive of it are two outstanding gardens with rhododendrons and myriad other plants: Cross Hills ( crosshills.co.nz; NZ$10; daily Sept.–May) and Heritage Park Garden ( heritagepark.co.nz; NZ$7; daily year-round).

New Zealand Rugby Museum

This museum—located upstairs in the Te Manawa complex—is worth a visit whether or not you're a rugby fan because it offers insight into a sport that many New Zealanders treat like a religion. The ever-growing collection of rugby memorabilia dates back to the start of this national game in 1870. Interactive components even let visitors "have a go"; you can kick, tackle, and jump in the lineout, testing your playing skills quite safely.

Te Manawa

This distinctive complex is divided into three sections that weave together the region's art, science, and history, including natural history and the history of Rangitane, the local Māori people. For young ones, the Mind Science Centre, with its quirky interactive exhibits, is entertaining and educational. Regular touring exhibitions that visit here are also known for their quality. The art gallery has a strong focus on established and emerging artists from the local area, but you'll also find works from national and international artists. Te Manawa also houses the New Zealand Rugby Museum.

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