PLAY AWAY WITH AVIS: NATURE, FOOD & CULTURE IN MANAWATU
We go to the he Manawatu with Avis to o discover what they have on offer ahead d of the NZPGA Championship. ampionship.
Stroll Victoria Esplanade, a beautiful and extensive inner city park adjacent to the Manawatu River, opened to mark Queen Victoria's 60th Jubilee and a local favourite still. Stop and smell some of 5000 varieties of roses at the world renowned Dugald McKenzie Rose Garden, check out a book from The Little Free Library – a box full of books waiting to be enjoyed in a sunny spot - or treat yourself to a decadent serve of high tea at the Esplanade Café, located in the historic Old Post Office.
Just 12 kilometres from Palmerston North and a world away is the rugged wilderness of Te Apiti Manawatu Gorge – the scenic divide between the Tararua and Ruahine Ranges. Stretch your legs on the two-hour Tawa loop. There's ancient native bush and stunning view points to reward your efforts, and you'll come face to face with Whatonga, an ancient Maori warrior immortalised in a six-metre-tall sculpture.
Refuel at the quirky Bridge Café, located in Balance, on the eastern side of the gorge. Nestled in picturesque bush beside the flow of the Manawatu River, this countrystyle café in a large, rustic building, is a beautiful spot to visit. Owner and local lass Rebecca Algie makes use of suppliers close to home to add innovation to traditional recipes, producing memorable, homemade food. Indulge in their Turkish poached eggs, duck pate, or a wedge of caramel slice. Yum!
According to local artist and gallery owner Bronwyn Zimmerman, the hottest trail in the region is not clad in native bush. She reckons it's right under
Further afield, experience the beautiful Rangitikei River canyon from splash level with a River Valley rafting trip. For the adventurous, there’s a worldclass half-day white water rafting trip.
the noses of Palmerston North city dwellers. Get your hands on an arts trail guide and decide for yourself. The map takes you past sculptures, carvings, paintings, photographs, murals, mosaics, and galleries, on a walkable tour of the central city.
Prepare to brave the breeze as you climb up Saddle Road, 10 kilometres from the city, to visit an unusual tourist attraction – the Te Apiti windfarm. A public viewing area's been set up beneath the
breathtakingly enormous turbines, the spinning blades of which turn wind funneled through the Manawatu Gorge into enough electricity to power 45,000 homes, plus there's panoramic views across the region.
Roll into Feilding, 15 minutes' drive north of Palmerston North, on a Friday to browse the stalls of the town's farmers market. Find talented cheesemaker Adrian Walcroft at the Cartwheel Creamery stall. Try one of his favourite creations - Blue Rhapsody, a gold-medal winner. Let a local farmer take you on a tour of one of the Southern Hemisphere's largest sale yards, where you can watch live cattle and sheep auctions. Kick back with a movie at the town's boutique cinema, decked out with plush 1920's décor and a wine bar.
Further afield, experience the beautiful Rangitikei River canyon from splash level with a River Valley rafting trip. For the adventurous, there's a world-class half-day white water rafting trip that boasts 10 major Grade 4 to 5 rapids over 12 kilometres. Or for a more sedate option, soak up the river's magic with a scenic day of paddling, picnic lunch included. Don't rush back to town; spend a night in a deluxe riverside suite at River Valley lodge, tucked into the base of the Ruahine Ranges.
Head west to Himatangi Beach, a small seaside town that's home to a ginormous sand dune field – it swells to close to 20 kilometres at its widest point. Climb up the highest sand dune you can find and on a good day you'll see Mt Taranaki and the South Island. Fossick for treasure amongst the piles of driftwood bleached by salt and sunshine. Grab some fish ‘n chips at the local store for a picnic tea on the beach or call in at The Wines Bar and Grill for a chowder.
WORDS KIM BOWDEN, PHOTOS WWW.MANAWATUNZ.CO.NZ