The rose garden there is considered the finest in New Zealand and there are picnic sites and riverside walks galore. Palmerston is also home to the National Rugby Museum where you can learn about arguably the world’s best international team. Most people use the city as a base to explore the region’s sights as the ski resorts of the central plateau and the wineries of Marlborough and Hawkes Bay are within easy reach.
Wanganui is northeast on route 3 and is famous for winning the New Zealand in Bloom contest several times. Visit in early summer and the city is a blaze of colour. Outdoor types will love the Whanganui River which offers canoeing, kayaking, rafting and jet boat trips. South on route 2 is Masterton and beyond it, Wellington, the nation’s capital where you can visit Te Papa, the national museum and learn all about how the early settlers fought with and ultimately displaced the local Maoris.