Whenever I drive through Kimbolton, I can’t help myself but stop. First, there’s Hansens Café & Store. Not only does the café serve amazing coffee and food, but the rustic ambience of the store is also unbeatable. With couches, tables, and a fireplace, it’s a great place to relax on a weekend afternoon.
A visit to the annual Cross Hills Gardens Country Fair in mid-November is a must-do if you enjoy good food, artisan products, high-quality crafts and live music. With over 180 stalls set in the garden’s magnificent grounds, it is a great event I can't recommend enough.
2. The Feilding Saleyards
This is one of the largest livestock saleyards in the southern hemisphere, running each week on a Friday.
The place bursts with life, smells and action as large numbers of livestock get bought and sold by auction. Taking a tour of the yards and watching poker-faced farmers in the midst of bidding wars is an intriguing and entertaining experience. I always come away feeling as if I’ve been given a glimpse into the beating heart of the region’s agricultural industry.
3. The Manawatū Gorge Walk
This is a truly unique track with great lookouts and spectacular views. Its uniqueness comes from the fact that the gorge marks one of the few places in the world where a river flows east to west through the main divide and the composition of the forest, filled with ferns and Nīkau palms, is unique only to the Manawatū. There are a number of tracks ranging from 15 minutes to five hours, all of them beautiful. I always like to finish at the Bridge Café, sitting outside in the sun with a good coffee and a slice of cake.
4. North Range Road
This road off Pahiatua Track has one of the best outlooks around. My favourite time to go up there is just before sunset. The spot gives you amazing views up and down the Ruahine and Tararua ranges.
Up there, the Manawatū, under the light of the setting sun, looks simply magical. Once the sun has dipped over the horizon, you can enjoy an amazingly clear night sky, as well as the sparkling lights of Palmerston North, Ashhurst, and Feilding. Make sure you take a thermos of warm tea and a good jacket, as it can get pretty chilly up there once the sun has gone!
5. Rangiwahia Hut
This is one of my favourite go-to places if I want a short tramp. Great as a day walk or leisurely overnight tramp, this benched track is suitable for families and has options for the seasoned trail runner. The view from this basic hut is one of the things I like the most. From Rangiwahia Hut, you can see all of the Manawatū and right the way up to Mount Ruapehu.