Best Walks in Palmerston North and Where to Treat Yourself Afterwards

The sun setting over Edward Pit Park on a clear day.

Six of the best walks in Palmerston North and places to visit for treats afterwards.

Words by: Nicole Mudgway
Photos by: Anna Briggs

Palmerston North may be on the smaller side as cities go, but it undeniably punches above its weight when it comes to local walkways and trails.

From full day hikes to urban parks, Palmerston North really does cater to all ages and abilities for those who want to venture into the great outdoors. We all know the best thing about doing the mahi is getting the treats, so the list below compiles some of the best spots to visit for your post-walk reward, in the form of food and drink, of course! 

Sledge Track & BABCO

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3B/95 Albert Street, Terrace End, Palmerston North

Start your day at BABCO (Brick Artisan Bread Company) by loading up on freshly baked goods straight out of the oven. We could eat the Everyday Sourdough as often as its name suggests, but it’s also hard to turn down the babka (chocolate braided bread), the almond croissants and the fruit danishes. Grab some treats from BABCO for a picnic lunch on the Sledge Track, as well as a freshly brewed coffee for the drive. 

Sledge Track is a renowned hike in the Tararua ranges that caters to various levels, as it gets progressively harder the further you venture. Even just a 30 minute stroll offers beautiful waterfalls, swimming spots and interesting rock formations. Keen hikers can check out the old mine shafts as they complete the 11km loop track, also crossing a swing bridge that is 22m long. The track is accessed from the end of Kahuterawa Road (gravel) which runs off Old West Road.

Te Arapiki a Tāne & The Fat Farmer

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360 Albert Street, Hokowhitu, Palmerston North

If you’re looking for short and steep, Te Arapiki a Tāne (the Stairway of Tāne) will be a worthy adversary. Starting from the cliffside reserve and finishing down by the Manawatū River, there are almost 600 steps in total - but who’s counting?! Brush up on your proverbs (and distract yourself from the burn) by spotting the 12 signs featuring different proverbs along the He Kupu Rangatira (Proverb Pathway). The proverbs are quoted in the language of origin, as well as a te reo Māori equivalent and an English translation.

If you can still feel your legs, get your recovery started the right way at cosy neighbourhood favourite, The Fat Farmer. Locally sourced, seasonal ingredients are used in a variety of dishes, including the signature dish: a 1kg ANZCO lamb shoulder, slow roasted on the bone with honey, roasted pumpkin puree, minted lamb jus and Yorkshire pudding. The stunningly presented cocktails are also a must try, and after 600 steps there’s no doubt that you’ve earned at least one! 

He Ara Kotahi & Libre

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9 George Street, Palmerston North Central, Palmerston North

Begin your stroll across He Ara Kotahi Bridge (beautifully illuminated by night) and continue along the pathway for up to 7.1km, passing forests, dairy farms, pā sites, Linton military camp and streams. The area is rich in natural history, cultural history and native wildlife. The bridge design is inspired by a fallen karaka tree, a tree with strong ties to the region’s iwi, Rangitāne o Manawatū. Perfect for cycling, running or walking the dog, the pathway is a favourite work-out for locals. 

Once you’ve got your recommended 10,000 steps, head into the city centre for a visit to Libre, the perfect destination for a Mexican feast. The vibrant atmosphere, festive decor and sizzling aromas will have you feeling like you’re in Mexico in no time. Specialising in cocktails (margarita, anyone?) and tacos, but also featuring all the classics such as quesadillas, enchiladas and fried chicken, it’s impossible to leave hungry. There are excellent vegan options available too (we love the nachos) so everyone can get in on the fun.

Edwards Pit Park & LOCAL Cafe & Eatery

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240 Broadway Avenue, Palmerston North Central, Palmerston North

Thanks to the Pit Park People, a passionate group of residents, the historic quarry site that lay before Edwards Pit Park Reserve has been restored and converted into an incredibly biodiverse park, with wetlands, open grass spaces and plenty of restoration bush. Bring your furry friend to explore this 2km network of pathways, as dogs are permitted off leash. Keep your eyes peeled for the slowly replenishing wildlife, including native birds and frogs. 

Follow this urban walk with a visit to LOCAL Cafe and Eatery, for coffee, brunch, afternoon snack or even a glass of wine in this leisurely, well-lit space. There’s a range of seating, so take your pick, and good luck choosing from the delicious menu. House favourites include the gluten free smashed avocado and feta and the brekkie bowl, with a side of local Arrosta coffee. Don’t forget to check out the cabinet, where you’re sure to find the perfect accompaniment or after-meal treat.

Te Āpiti Manawatū Gorge & The Herb Farm Cafe

86 Grove Road, Kelvin Grove, Ashhurst

A walk steeped in natural history and wilderness, the Te Āpiti Manawatū Gorge walk can make for a quick and easy stroll or a full day tramp - and everything in between. To hike the gorge track is 11.2km one way, but there is also the option of taking the Tawa Loop Track: a shorter, 5km walk that offers splendid views across Palmerston North too. Native flora and fauna is in abundance, and there are information boards to make sure you’re learning about your surroundings along the way.  

Replenish your body, and your soul, at The Herb Farm. Take your time wandering the beautiful gardens and retail shop before settling down at the cafe for a bite to eat. The menu, with selections including Buddha Bowls, burgers, chicken curry and corn fritters, aims to incorporate as many fresh herbs from the garden as possible and offers up serious sustenance. The cabinet stocks smaller treats that also incorporate goodies from the garden. 

Bledisloe Park Walkway & Café Cuba

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236 Cuba Street, Palmerston North Central, Palmerston North

The Bledisloe Park Walkway is easy, sheltered and the perfect place to cool off on a hot day. Rich in native bush, the leafy walkway has a swimming hole for those inclined, also linking up with the gentle Turitea Stream for those just wanting to dip their toes in. Situated on the Massey University campus, the scenic path serves a functional purpose for student commuters and dog walkers too.

If you weren’t hungry before, you might be after laying eyes on the cabinet food at Cafe Cuba. Sweet treats abound, the range of house-made slices often includes custard, peppermint, fudge and caramel oaty options, and the cake selection usually features chocolate mud, carrot, chocolate mousse, banoffee pie and numerous cheesecakes. For those lacking in the sweet tooth department, check out the a la carte menu for plenty of savoury choices too.

Neat Palmerston North Places

Hōm Interiors + Inspiration

The exterior of Hōm Interiors + Inspiration with the black storefront.
Place Palmerston North
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In 2021, Nichola Waugh threw open the doors of Hōm to the public for the very first time.

Saigon Corner

The inside of the restaurant.
Place Palmerston North
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Head to Saigon Corner on Princess Street for a taste of Vietnam. This local spot’s modern Vietnamese cuisine has earned excellence on TripAdvisor for over three years straight, and it doesn’t take long to figure out why.

BABCO - Brick Artisan Bread Company

Close up of pastries in a box.
Place Palmerston North Editor's Pick
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BABCO, which stands for Brick Artisan Bread Company, was started by husband and wife duo Alice and Jeremy. The Palmerston North pair created BABCO from scratch in every sense of the phrase - it all started with a bread baking experiment in their backyard pizza oven.

The Herb Farm

The wooden exterior of the building.
Place Palmerston North

Head to Ashhurst to experience one of New Zealand’s most beloved natural skin care brands in more ways than one. When you arrive, you’ll immediately be greeted by the beautiful gardens which are home to many of the herbs that feature in The Herb Farm’s products.