We see many itineraries where the route from Taupo to Wellington is straight south on the SH1, all in a big hurry to catch the ferry to the South Island.
If you can spare some time, there are 3 really nice ‘alternatives‘ for a part of this trip: 3 Scenic Routes trough The Manawatū Country offering ranges, dramatic limestone cliffs, lush farmland and historical buildings and monuments.
The Manawatū is a less explored part of New Zealand, especially by International Tourist. Like so many destinations, you can only really emerge by making the time to explore. From beginner to advanced, the Manawatū is chocca with beautiful walks, from the easy to the challenging – it’s certainly the best way to immerse yourself in the stunning natural landscape of the area, and it’s good for the soul!
Stormy Point Route.
A brilliant alternative to getting to Feilding and Palmerston North city, away from state highway one.
Named after the Stormy Point lookout, phenomenal views stretch as far as Mt Taranaki and Mt Ruapehu, on clear days even the West Coast. You’ll see one of the best-preserved sequences of river terraces in the world, lush farmlands, driving hilly countryside with stunning scenery.
The Stormy Point Route start from Feilding in the south or from the State Highway One turn off at Vinegar Hill in the north
Aptly, named after Peep-o-Day, which is the first place in northern Manawatū to see the morning sun, this scenic route cuts in off state highway one and travels through sweeping valleys.
Travel past ranges, dramatic limestone cliffs, lush farmland and historical buildings and monuments. Take your time and stop at one of the well signposted historical monuments, rural villages, hidden swimming spots and magical viewing points, Peep-o-Day route takes through stunning yet the often unseen landscape of rural Manawatū.
The Manawatū Scenic Route
Heading down the Pohangina Valley, this route takes you on an incredible journey. An evolving landscape offers you an insight into real Kiwi back country, where the journey is as much a part of the adventure as the destination.
This longest ‘de-tour’ to Palmerston North is a day drive easily, but to really make the most of it, we recommend that you plan it over at least two days.
Don’t miss the viewpoint of the Ruahine Dress Circle from above, and then make the effort to take the 3 km detour (take care on the gravel road!) to the swimming hole for a refreshing dip.
Feeling a bit more active? You can tramp the Iron Gate Gorge, via Stoat Trap Track, to see native birds, pristine native bush and a view of a waterfall.
Packing in some side trips, you will need more than one day to drive The Manawatū Scenic Route; Half way there is an excellent community camping spot, the Rangiwahia Domain offers motorhome camping, complete with toilet and hot showers facilities, at a small fee. Nice to have, but not a must: all our campervans are Certified Self Contained, ready for Freedom Camping.