Take the scenic journey through the heart of New Zealand’s lower North Island. Discover hidden valleys, vast rolling farmland and ancient native forest. It’s where swimming holes and lookouts are your mandatory rest stops. Stay overnight and over two days, you'll experience real Kiwi backcountry where the journey is as much a part of the adventure as the destination.
Explore New Zealand's heartland
Stop in at Awastone, located just over the Mangaweka Bridge and indulge in some lunch or a hot coffee by the river at the onsite cafe (open from October to April)! If you’re feeling adventurous, book in for rafting or kayaking. Once you’re all fed and watered, your journey will lead you through a deep gorge steeped with white papa cliffs.
From here, you’ll pass the Ruahine Dress Circle Reserve, with waterfalls and a unique swim hole. It’s a beloved local secret!
If you’re ready to stretch your legs, the Rangiwahia Hut Track is a must-do when in Manawatū. Alternatively, Table Flat Trekking offers horse treks that range from 45 minutes to three hours.
Finish your day with a drink and meal at the Āpiti Tavern & Eatery, the perfect place to meet the locals.
Located near the spectacular upper reaches of the Manawatu River.Read more
Buckle up, and head for the picturesque Pohangina Valley. Keep your head up and you’ll be treated to an ever-changing landscape of lush green valleys, stony river terraces and the impressive backdrop of the Ruahine Ranges.
Totara Reserve is not only renowned for its stunning ancient native bush walks, it is also the perfect spot to camp, picnic and swim. Public facilities, BBQ’s and a playground are all located here.
For a quick detour, head up to Pohangina Village and tick off Pohangina Wetlands, and Luttrells White Pine Gardens & Museum.
Get yourself back on track and you’ll soon come through to Ashhurst, a colourful town offering all your basic needs. Discover local pottery artist Suzanne MacAllen, or explore the tranquil garden setting of The Herb Farm & Cafe.
Wrap up your Manawatū Scenic Route adventure at Te Āpiti - Manawatū Gorge, a natural landmark of awe-inspiring legend where you will discover native bush walks, swimming and horse trekking.
Now - onwards to your next destination of Palmerston North city, Wairarapa, Hawke’s Bay or Wellington.
Getting around New Zealand is easy with a great range of transport options available.
There are plenty of accommodation options for every budget and travel style.
No matter the season, the majority of our main attractions are open year-round.
More information on basic costs for accommodation, travel and food.