Manawatu: A hub for the central North Island

Written by: Anna Hamilton, Auckland
Manawatu is an ever expanding hub situated in the lower North Island, with an abundance of opportunities for recent graduates. With a population just shy of 250,000, Manawatu is constantly growing with affordable housing, job prospects and has some of the most beautiful natural playgrounds in the country! 

Things to see and do

No matter the season or temperature, there’s no shortage of sights to see, mountains to climb or beaches to visit. Home to a network of walking and cycling trails such as; Arapuke Mountain Bike Park, Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge walks, the Manawatu Riverside Pathway and the Sledge Track, these are only some of the great outdoor ways to escape and explore some of nature's beauty after a hard day's work! 
Manawatu also has a great amount of history which is showcased in our museums. Te Manawa Museum explores a fusion of art, science and heritage with interactive exhibitions and international touring shows; and the Coach House Museum exhibits Feilding’s agricultural history as well as following the journey of some of Manawatu’s earliest settlers. The northern Manawatu villages are home to a number of hidden natural gems, from glow worm caves to gorges and dramatic clay cliffs! 
If it’s sea, salt and sand that you are craving, Foxton and Himatangi Beach are only a short drive from central Palmerston North. There are so many beautiful, scenic places to explore, just a stone's throw away from the heart of the city, making it easy to achieve an enviable ‘work-life balance’.

Industries in Manawatu

There are a number of major industry sectors that call Manawatu home; including logistics and freight, agribusiness and food innovation and research, as well as the health and education sector – to name a few. Massey University and UCOL are two of the leading tertiary education facilities in Manawatu, producing the highest concentration of scientists and researchers in Australasia. However, there are also a number of crown and commercial business centres if you are looking to branch out to a more corporate focused role – there are more than 2500 scientists working in the region!

Since Manawatu is constantly growing in population, there are plenty of local and international businesses who are seeking graduates to help continue the development of the region. Industries such as accountancy, logistics, electrical and insurance are particularly interested in graduate level candidates. However, Manawatu is also supportive of business development, with the Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) helping local startups or business mentoring to those who are more focused on entrepreneurial endeavours. So whether you are a recent graduate looking to start your career or wanting to branch out into self-employment, there’s no surprise as to why Manawatu is such a popular hub with the amount of support and opportunities that are offered in this local community.


If you’re after some smashed avocado on toast or keen for a few social beverages after a long week of work, head out and enjoy some of the best food and drink that the region has to offer. With a big agricultural background, it's not surprising that there are plenty of bars and eateries with a sizable focus on local produce. Some of the local hotspots include; Saigon Corner which specialise in Vietnamese street food, LOCAL Cafe if you’re after a casual and enjoyable brunch spot and The Green House Cafe if you’re wanting to enjoy one of Manawatu’s finest plant-based eateries, while Brew Union is a local favourite microbrewery reminiscent of Melbourne’s best gastro pubs. 
If you’re keen on picking out your own produce, then go and explore some of the weekly and monthly markets that are held in different areas of the city and region. The city has a bustling Saturday market offering the best produce and artisan foods from the lower North Island, and Feilding has a weekly Farmers’ Market which brings locally grown and harvested produce and tasty treats to the community; Manawatu is also host to many different events all year round, which include; rural/agriculture days, bespoke markets, cycling events, international festivals celebrating the cities diverse cultures, summer concerts and much more. There’s something for everyone in Manawatu so there’s never a dull moment!

Living in Manawatu

One of the primary concerns for young adults and graduates is the state of the New Zealand’s economic housing climate. While many large cities in New Zealand are becoming increasingly unaffordable to live in; Manawatu offers a combination of affordable rural and urban living. Many young adults have been able to get their foot onto the property ladder with affordable housing and a landscape available for development. Palmerston North city and Manawatu are home to a diverse number of cultures; over 130 languages are spoken and it is a place where many immigrants and locals are able to express their culture and identity, and is reflective of the welcoming and friendly community here. 
This region also offers residents the chance to live in smaller communities, while having easy and close access to everything they need; Feilding, Himatangi and Apiti, are just some of the most popular areas which have close-knit communities, perfect for planting roots or starting a family. Top education and healthcare is also a prominent focus for the region this community, with the highest number of residents with Ph.D’s in the country, as well as having one of the youngest populations, it makes for an exciting hub and community to be a part of as it continues to develop and expand over time!
Manawatu is one of the most fantastic and idyllic spots to move to; with the scenery, job opportunities, local community and expanding housing developments, it’s an exciting time to explore this growing region and see it for yourself! Why bother with rush-hour traffic or the hustle-bustle in larger urban cities, when Manawatu offers work-life balance and a thriving city-centre as well as many other opportunities and experiences that are hard to compete with. Whether it’s the beautiful landscape, supportive local community, or future career prospects that you’re after, Manawatu certainly offers a place to call your own!