Palmerston North is a key university city, noted for its agricultural faculty, in a rich farming district. To the west, Whanganui lies at the mouth of the Whanganui river.
Map showing Whanganui - Manawatu region
Whanganui - Manawatu
Located in the lower North Island, the region is named after its two main rivers. The Whanganui to the north and west is the country’s longest navigable river. The Manawatu in the south east creates a large fertile plain and runs through the largest city, Palmerston North (population 80,000). Palmerston North is about seven hour’s drive from Auckland and two hours from Wellington.
Palmerston North is widely known as a ‘student city’ and around 40% of its population either work at or attend the university and other educational institutions. The mix of farming industries nearby has made the city a particularly valuable hub for agriculturally-based education which in turn supports a significant number of science and research facilities in the region.
Palmerston North is also close to the National Air Force base at Ohakea and to Linton Army Camp.
Whanganui city (population 39,000) functions mainly as a service centre for its surrounding farming district.
The region’s landscape spans mountain ranges, the spectacular Manawatu Gorge, picturesque farmland, coastal plains and beaches.
Whanganui - Manawatu is part of the Welcoming Communities Te Waharoa ki ngā Hapori pilot programme, which puts out the welcome mat to newcomers: recent migrants, former refugees and international students.
The Whanganui District Council and Palmerston North City Council are working with their communities to pilot Welcoming Communities in the Whanganui - Manawatu region.
With its many students and defence personnel, Whanganui-Manawatu is a relatively young and vibrant region. Housing is relatively affordable and lifestyle living has become increasingly popular. Many people commute into Palmerston North or Whanganui for work, shopping or entertainment.
The region includes the west coast beaches which are popular for swimming, fishing, boating and other water sports, as well as the bush clad Tararua ranges, popular for tramping and walking. The region also offers a range of adventure tourism activities including white water rafting.
Economy and industry
The mainstays of the local economy are education, associated agricultural research, defence plus agriculture itself, mainly dairy farming, cropping, vegetables, sheep and beef. Due to its strategic location in the lower North Island, Palmerston North is also increasingly an important hub for logistics and distribution.
Whanganui-Manawatu enjoys a comparatively mild climate with greater extremes inland. In summer the region is warm, with a maximum mid-summer daily average of between 20-23°C.
In the winter the minimum mid-winter daily average for coastal areas (including Whanganui) is 4-8°C, while inland areas including Palmerston North are considerably colder.
Top five migrant populations (2018 Census)
Many migrants have already made Whanganui - Manawatu home. The table below shows where these migrants are moving from and demonstrates the diverse population you can expect to find in Whanganui - Manawatu.
It can be comforting to know there are others, similar to you, who have experienced the move.
Country of origin and no. of migrants for each country
Country of origin
No. of migrants
UK and Ireland
Middle East and Africa
Now that you know about what Whanganui - Manawatu has to offer, have a read about everyday life in the region, and services and support you can access.