23-25/1/16. We have stopped in Palmerston North, one of the larger cities in NZ, for a few days – partly because Christine was due a “pill day” but mainly because we have decided to catch the train into Wellington. This was based on all the advice we were receiving that the last stretch into the capital was boring, hilly and dangerous (because it would be mainly on a very busy part of SH1). The reason for the delay is that there are very few trains between the two cities – once a day, at 6.15 a.m.(!) Monday to Friday (but not this Monday because it’s a public holiday), or three times a week at 4.10 p.m. when the Auckland-Wellington “express” goes through – so only 8 trains per week!
Palmerston North is not on most tourists’ agenda because (to be perfectly frank) there isn’t much to see here! John Cleese is alleged to have said “If you ever want to kill yourself but lack the courage, I think a visit to Palmerston North will do the trick”. The city took some exception to this and apparently named the local rubbish dump after him!!
However, we like the place – or, at the very least, can see the attraction as a place to live. It has a gentle pace of life with a large shopping area. The streets are wide giving a really spacious feel and plenty of room for cycle lanes on many of them. Also it is pan flat which tempts a lot of people out on their bikes. Other things that we have done/enjoyed here:-
- Christine went to church where the service was held in the church hall because of concerns about how earthquake proof the church itself was.
- The lady (Leonie) she sat next to very kindly invited us to lunch and we had an extremely pleasant time talking about her cycle trips with her late husband and where we were headed.
- Right next to the campsite is an enormous park where there were 5 cricket matches taking place on Saturday.
- In the park there was a game of “football” played by people wearing huge plastic bubbles (photo to br uploaded). It was hilarious to watch as they bumped into each other and fell over. Stephen had difficulty restraining Christine from joining in. Or was it the other way round?
- There is a beautiful rose garden with trial beds – similar to the RHS at Wisley but bigger!
- There is a lovely walk along the Manawatu river right by the campsite on the edge of the city.
- There is a lagoon which is an oxbow lake formed by the river with some VERY NICE houses looking over it.
- In the centre of the city there is a very pleasant square 7 hectares in size which is very nice for walking across and sitting in but is a bit of a pain for navigating around, even by foot.
- The big attraction of the city is the Rugby Museum which we did not visit because of the $20 entry fee being cheapskate accountants on a budget. The guide book says it is good.
A few words on our trip to Palmy. After our “cattle rustling” on Friday evening we got a very good night’s sleep before setting off on the relatively short (30 km) trip. The first 10km were along the quite busy and narrow road that we had used the previous evening but we soon descended towards Feilding (that is the correct spelling – honest!) which claims to be NZ’s prettiest town. We only went around the edge so we cannot confirm the validity of this claim. We then took a couple of quiet roads that ran parallel to the railway line and busier roads through Bunnythorpe and past the airport into Palmerston itself.