Palmerston North is a small vibrant city in the lower North Island. If you are looking for city life but still want to be close to the country then Palmerston North is a great choice. The city is known for its strong education facilities: there is a major University campus there and many other schools.
January and February usually have nice weather with a good average temperature. The warmest month of the year is February, with an average temperature of 18.1 degrees. Most rainfall (rainy season) is seen during winter time in June, July and August. Lots of rain means green grass and this is indeed a rich and fertile agricultural area. Still, there are on average 200 rain free days each year.
Getting around Palmerston North is pretty easy with a compact CBD and a regular bus service. Palmerston North's central business district is centred around a large central reserve known as The Square. Good to know that all CBD precincts are within walking distance of each other. Bus travel is free for Massey University and UCOL students. For all other students we recommend to purchase a pre-paid travel card GoCard which will cost you NZD12, with NZD5 travel credit already loaded. Palmerston North city has a growing number of designated cycle lanes and cycling tracks. It makes it safe and affordable to get around the greater city, as well as to and fr om the CBD. You can rent an electric bike for NZD30 per half a day or consider buying a used bicycle online.
Hospitality part-time jobs like a cafe assistant or a barista are widely available at an hourly payrate of NZD15.25. If you are keen to experience the hard farm or general labour work you can get paid up to NZD20 per hour. When you look for jobs online choose Manawatu-Wanganui Region as it's where Plamerston North lies geographically.
Being a student city, there are plenty of flats available for rent in Palmerston North. You can find a room in a shared house for as cheap as NZD90 per week plus expenses (usually power and Internet). If you consider to live more independently then you can easily find a one bedroom unit in the city centre with a bathroom for NZD190-220 per week plus expenses. Keep in mind that most landlords require a bond (refundable after you move out) which is usually a three weeks rent worth. For those who prefer to live in a family environment and learn about New Zealand culture firsthand we recommend a homestay accommodation. Weekly board with 3 meals every day, 7 days per week and unlimited internet will cost you NZD245 per week.
Palmerston North and the surrounding area have some incredible scenic walks, gardens and parks. This city is also within close proximity to some of the best mountain biking trails the country has to offer. One of the top nature sights is Manawatu Gorge. For the adventurous its walking tracks (3-5 hours one way) are a great way to enjoy the native bush, views and wildlife for free. Fancy meeting the native owl? Head to the Owlcatraz wh ere morepork and birds are in a cage and glass-free environment for you to see and encounter them in the bush area (NZD15-30 per adult). If you are into arts and history then go check out Te Manawa Museum with a free admission. It houses a collection of about 55,000 items to display the region’s heritage and culture. There is even a New Zealand Rugby Museum (NZD 12.5 per adult) with the collection of over 37,000 rugby items from uniforms to photographs that date back to the 1800s.
Verdict: Palmerston North is a student-friendly city with affordable lifestyle and community-centered living. Also Palmerston North's central location makes it a perfect starting point for wider explorations. Highly recommended for those who appreciate nature, diverse community and student city buzz.