The Square, Palmerston North. © Destination Manawatū

Loved by the locals: Palmerston North

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Come for the coffee, stay for the food and while you're here check out a local's picks for the best things to see and do in Palmerston North.

1. Get your caffeine fix

Two-time award-winning Arrosta Coffee Roastery on Victoria Ave has a Cupping and Coffee Tasting Lab next door. It's just like wine tasting, but for coffee connoisseurs. Treat your senses while discovering the art and science behind every brew. You can also get your daily fix at award-winning Ebony Coffee – a roastery and espresso bar that’s been around Palmerston North since 1996.

If you’re in the mood for something a little different, try a cup of nitro cold-brew coffee from Urban Pantry, a cool little BYO-cup café on George Street.

2. Delicious delights

Palmerston North is brimming with tasty eateries in and around the city. Start your day off right at Joseph Street Kitchen just outside the CBD. Not your ordinary café, this local fav offers primo coffee, homemade food for the soul, charming indoor and outdoor seating with dog-friendly areas to boot. Café Cuba is another popular spot on the corner of George and Cuba with a relaxed vibe and an impressive menu. 

Artisan bread company, Babco, is the place for those seeking the ultimate breads, bagels, baguettes, croissants and cruffins – a must-try hybrid between a croissant and muffin.

Located in Terrace End on Albert Street, Babco makes food fun again, with utterly scrumptious creations.

For a salad, smoothie and juice fix, head to The Green House along The Square for beautiful food and beverages on the go.

Saigon Corner is an unassuming little gem on Princess Street that boasts a loyal local following. Serving authentic Vietnamese street food that’s fresh, tasty and always bang for your buck. Just along The Square, Wholegrain Organics is the go-to for healthy, yet seriously delicious food, with vegan and gluten-free options, handmade breads, carob bars and pasta, all crafted onsite.

Later in the day, check out The Fat Farmer, a lively restaurant and bar in Hokowhitu. Crowd-pleasing, made-to-share plates along with an eclectic mix of wines, beers and cocktails make this a popular neighbourhood joint. Or head to Brew Union – a beloved Palmy microbrewery that certainly lives up to its name. Locals flock to Brew Union for freshly brewed house beers, wood-fired pizzas and tantalising bites.

3. Enjoy an urban unwind

Studio 31, on Coleman Mall along The Square, is a full-service day spa with a unique point of difference. Offering the latest in floatation therapy, you can cocoon your worries away in a floatation pod to completely relax and rejuvenate your body and mind. Nearby, The Dharma Room runs the only hot yoga studio in Manawatū and is like finding a wellbeing retreat right in the heart of the city. For those looking for some serene in the green, wander through Bledisloe Park where you can escape to an oasis of native bush, tranquil streams, giant redwoods and the Massey Arboretum.  

4. Get on your bike

Sun on your face, wind in your hair, breathing in the fresh air: get a unique perspective of the city by exploring Palmerston North by bike along the iconic Manawatū River Pathway. Take an easy, leisurely tour down by the riverside passing through local suburbs, native bush, pump tracks and the ever-popular Junior Road Safety Park for the little ones at Victoria Esplanade. For something a little more adventurous, head to Arapuke Forest Park – Manawatū’s premier mountain bike park, home to 30 kilometres of epic trails, complete with shuttle service in the stunning Kahuterawa Valley, a scenic 25-minute drive from the CBD.  

5. George Street jaunts

There’s always something happening on George Street. Wander down for some striking public art, cool cafés on every corner, quirky shops and lovely local boutiques. You can pop into the Palmerston North City Library, affectionately known as the living room of the city. This beautiful heritage building is a local hub with fantastic facilities, a welcoming vibe, free games and activities for kids and also offers stunning views of The Square. 

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