Palmerston North – Growing Tourism Trade

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

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While Palmerston North may not be the first thing that pops into your head when thinking of a weekend getaway or well-earned family break its popularity as a tourist destination is growing according to recent regional tourism estimates from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

The Manawatu-Whanganui region has taken out 8th place for regional visitor spending (including both domestic and international) for the year ending February 2018, coming in well ahead of Hawkes Bay, the West Coast and the Nelson region, with a total of $993 million up 5% from February 2017.

Out of the different industry sectors across the Manawatu-Whanganui region retail holds the title for the largest area of spending with fuel coming in second and food and beverages following in a close third.

Taking out the tops spots on the regional tourism estimates list are Auckland at $8340 million, Otago $3717, Canterbury $3674, Waikato $2577, Wellington $2512, Bay of Plenty $1853, with Northland its nearest competitor at $1118 million.

Why Is Palmerston North Growing In Popularity?

The city of Palmerston North makes up the majority of that $993 million dollars with a whopping $400 million in annual visitor spending, up 0.9% from the same time last year. Retail makes up the clear majority of Palmerston North’s spending at 41%, with service based food and beverages, transport, tourism products, accommodation, alcohol, fuel and recreation making up the remaining 59%.

With a clear majority of Manawatu-Whanganui visitor spending coming from domestic sources it is understandable that the region has a strong focus on domestic visitors.

Making the most of its central location, ideal event and conference hosting abilities, well stocked retail sector, family friendly attractions and lower everyday costs Palmerston North has placed its self in an ideal market for domestic and international visitors.

Development In Palmerston North

Increases in visitor spending have contributed to growth and development across the region including 1.5 billion dollars’ worth of expansion and construction projects expected to start within the next 10 years.

The largest of these projects include a Defence Force Hub centred at Linton and Ohakea’s air force base renewal project, amounting to nearly $600 million. Just under $300 million allocated to new Palmerston North Hospital facilities.

The beginning of the long-awaited ‘ring road’ effectively creating a bypass for Palmerston North City from Longburn, through Kairanga and Bunnythorpe, reconnecting with State Highway 3 near Ashhurst.

Massey University’s $184 million extension plan, housing redevelopment plans from Wallace Development, and a $150 million dollar upgrade and expansion of the Powerco’s network also make the list of significant investment projects.

Why Visit Palmerston North?

Palmerston North attracts visitors for a variety of reasons, an exciting calendar of events, unique activities, and access to a wide range of outdoor nature based Parks and Reserves are just a few of them. Take a look below for a few of the best things to do in Palmerston North.

Attractions And Activities In Palmerston North

While sporting events, conferencing facilities and education are all big drawcards for many, Palmerston North also has a great range of activities and attractions to suit all ages and abilities.

New Zealand Rugby Museum

Experience the best of this popular New Zealand sport at the NZ Rugby Museum. Discover some rare rugby artefacts in the Rugby Relics gallery, learn about rugby greats and give it your best shot in the ‘Have A Go’ area where you can attempt tackling, jumping, sprinting and kicking like a professional rugby player.

Lido Aquatic Centre

An award winning aquatic centre and water park, the Lido is a great place for the whole family. The pool complex contains a variety of pools and facilities including indoor leisure and lap pools, sauna, spa, steam room, outdoor leisure and lap pools, hydroslides and a fantastic AquaPlay area. There is also a fully equipped Gym on site for those wanting to squeeze in a workout before hitting the spa.

Victoria Esplanade

Spread over a sprawling 26 hectares Palmerston North’s Victoria Esplanade is the one-stop-shop for all visitors to Palmerston North. Beautiful rose gardens, a paddling pool, playground, croquet lawns, conservatory, arboretum, native duck aviary, café and scenic miniature railway provide entertainment and fun for all ages.

Robertson Holden International Speedway

Based on the corner of Cuba and Pascal Streets, the Speedway offers up a regular schedule of Superstocks, Stockcars, Solos, Sidecars, Sprintcars, Minisprints and  both Adult and Youth Ministocks. See the website for a breakdown of upcoming events and fun for the whole family.

Manawatū River Pathway Extension

Feel like slowing it down a little? Take a walk along the edges of the Manawatu River. Perfect for those with pushchairs and bikes, the mostly flat path winds its way through grassed and planted areas while following the edges of the Manawatu River between Maxwells Line and Waitoetoe Park.

Te Manawa Museum of Art Science and History

Enjoy an easy afternoon exploring the exhibits at the Te Manawa Museum on Main Street. See artworks, hands-on science exhibits, heritage objects and natural history specimens from all three disciplines. The Museum is open daily and admission is free.

Owlcatraz

Palmerston North’s best kept secret, the Owlcatraz native bird and wildlife park features the NZ Owl (Morepork/Ruru), Weka, glow worms, ducks and much more. Wander the purpose built wetlands on a guided tour ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Owlcatraz is just 30 minutes drive south of Palmerston North.

Events In Palmerston North

Here are just a few of the popular events held in Palmerston North every year, this list is by no means exhaustive. Regular sporting events including netball, boxing and rugby are held throughout the year along with many market style days, smaller niche performances, celebrations, exhibitions, animal shows and concerts, for more information on events held in Palmerston North see here.

The Festival Of Cultures

Celebrating the art, culture and lifestyle of the wider community, the Festival of Cultures offers a weekend of parades, markets, performances, music and demonstrations. Held in mid-March every year, festival goers are entertained by both local and international performers, the delights of the World Food, Craft and Music Fair, lantern making workshops, book presentations, cooking and fashion shows as well as the singing talents of the Manawatu Community Choir and IPU NZ Papuan Singing Group.

New Years Eve In The Square

See in the New Year at Palmerston North’s New Years Eve in the Square. Featuring live music, kids entertainment, performances from tribute bands, food, beverages and don’t forget the fireworks! Held in central Palmerston North at the Square, this event is family friendly and designed to be a fun way for all ages to see in the New Year.

Manawatu Professionals Big Rigs

A bi-annual event the Manawatu Professionals Big Rigs event takes place in the Square on the Railway Land reserve. Take a ride in one of the impressive Big Rigs (or get an awesome selfie!) and enjoy the festivities and entertainment on the day. Held in early April the Big Rigs event is free to enter but there is a small fee for truck rides, all proceeds going to the Teenage and Child Cancer fund.

City Of Palmerston North Gold Cup Festival

A weekend of festival fun for horse and greyhound racing enthusiasts and those just looking to join in the fun. Kicking off with a family fun night in the Square, the event includes an Easter Egg hunt, food trucks, big screen outdoor movie, face painting, bouncy castles and much more. The racing begins on the following day, with harness races and Greyhounds in the spotlight as well as more entertainment in the evening followed by more horse racing, live music and a fashion in the field show.

Pasifika Fusion

A Pacific Island festival aimed at Pasifika youth, the Pasifika Fusion event is held early July every year. Designed to allow our youth to embrace their cultural diversity and freely express themselves through a variety of art forms, including cinematography, dance, debate, drama, poetry, quiz, speeches, science, talent, visual and wearable arts. Presented in concert, tickets are available at the door. The event usually runs over a period of three days.

Next time you are looking for a great place to stay for a night, a weekend or family holiday add Palmerston North to the list and find out why it is fast becoming the next big go-to holiday destination.

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