Originally a sheep farming area, this region is now a renowned destination for hiking and adventure sports. Come here to see bungee jumpers launching off New Zealand’s highest bridge.
Much of the fun in Manawatu - Wanganui region is centered on the two prominent river valleys. Hike the trails around the stunning Manawatu Gorge and enjoy some spectacular views of the Tararua and Ruahine mountain ranges on either side. As you make your way through the dense forest, you will hear the distinctive calls of tuis, bellbirds and other native birds.
Thrill seekers won’t want to miss a trip on the Rangitikei River. Join a white-water rafting tour for a high-paced ride through the rugged scenery. All equipment is provided and an experienced instructor will guide you down the river’s bends and waterfalls. Expeditions set off from the village of Taihape, which is just under 90-minutes’ drive northeast of the town of Wanganui.
If you want even more excitement, make your way to nearby Mokai Gravity Canyon, home to New Zealand’s highest bridge bungee jump. Step off the bridge and fall 262 feet (80 meters) toward the river below. You can also try the zip-line tour, which reaches speeds of up to 100 miles (160 kilometers) per hour. There is also a 164-foot (50-meter) free-fall swing in the canyon. If you want to do all three, buy one of the combination tickets to receive a discount.
Enjoy a slower-paced day wandering the parks and museums of Palmerston North. View authentic Māori artwork at Te Manawa in the middle of town or unwind in the idyllic Mackenzie Rose Garden at Victoria Esplanade. The town is a convenient place to base your exploration of the region and has several hotels as well as a range of good restaurants.
The Manawatu - Wanganui region is in the lower half of New Zealand’s North Island. The town of Wanganui is an hour-long flight, or just over a 5-hour drive, south of Auckland. It’s also an hour by air from Auckland to Palmerston North, or a 6-hour drive.
Summers in the region can be dry, so if you’re looking to enjoy the rapids at their raging best you may want to consider visiting in spring or autumn. Otherwise, hiking and bungee jumping are year-round attractions.