Te Utanganui – Central New Zealand Distribution Hub

Map of Te Utanganui.

Te Utanganui is a freight, logistics, and distribution hub that cements the role of Palmerston North and Manawatū as an integral part of New Zealand’s national and international trade networks.

Manawatū is the natural and logical centre for distribution across central New Zealand and sits at the intersection of State Highways 1, 2 and 3, enabling easy connections to Wellington, Wairarapa, Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki.  It also includes:

  • Palmerston North Airport, which is one of only three key airports in New Zealand that can move freight 24/7
  • the planned KiwiRail Regional Freight Hub that will generate significant freight distribution opportunities for Te Utanganui
  • the proposed regional freight ring road that would make freight movement around and to the city more efficient.

The name Te Utanganui was gifted by Rangitāne o Manawatū and invokes the concept of an inland port, and where things of value arrive by sea, sky and land, and then flow outwards again. Ki uta refers to an inland location and nui describes the hub’s vastness and importance. 

Read more about the story and strategy for Te Utanganui on the CEDA website

What’s planned for Te Utanganui

To unlock the economic potential of Te Utanganui, additional land must be zoned for industrial growth. A high-level masterplan has been developed to guide future land-use and infrastructure planning for the area. We lead the master-planning for the project, with input from our partners, and will be working on the processes for rezoning land and directing growth of infrastructure, such as stormwater and transport upgrades.

The masterplan is a visionary document which must consider various constraints such as stormwater management, flood plains, land ownership, ecology, community impact, existing infrastructure, and partner needs. It is also essential that this plan addresses the substantial economic, social, cultural, and environmental implications for landowners and the community. More detailed assessments will be conducted for realising each stage of the masterplan.

When planning for future housing, business, and industrial growth, we need to think 30 years ahead. You’ll see how Te Utanganui fits into the whole district’s 30-year growth story in the upcoming Future Development Strategy once that is proposed in our upcoming long-term plan for 2024-34.

A key feature of this strategy is consolidating industrial areas around key transport routes and hubs.

A map showing the proposed expansion of Palmerston North's northeast industrial zone to create a new distribution hub.

Download this map as a PDF file or explore the story map:

Te Utanganui Full Masterplan(PDF, 3MB)

Proposed timeframes for development

Development for Te Utanganui will require significant infrastructure investment, including work on the Main Trunk Railway Line, integrated stormwater reserves, and a regional freight ring road to support the freight hub's operation. Some of this infrastructure will be designated and constructed by us to unlock each stage, and some will be delivered by or in partnership with others such as KiwiRail, Waka Kotahi, and private developers.

The masterplan will be implemented in three stages, eventually covering a total area of 288 hectares by 2052, with development of the KiwiRail freight hub playing a pivotal role.

Stage 1: 2025/26

The first 26 hectares of land to be developed will include 3 hectares (Area A) and 23 hectares (Area B) with a supporting stormwater management reserve. This development will require the extension of Aldersons Drive from the existing North East Industrial Zone to Richardsons Line, and a new road connecting Areas A and B. Five properties will be impacted by this change, which is expected to occur in 2025/26. Water, wastewater, and roading upgrades have already been extended along Richardsons and Setters Lines to prepare for Stage 1.

A map of the development planned for 2025/26.


Stage 2: 2032

The second stage (Area C) includes a further 150 hectares of land located to the east of Railway Road to time with the development of the KiwiRail freight hub. This stage requires significant infrastructure investment in the form of an overbridge at Railway Road and Roberts Line before any development, so that it can connect safely to the KiwiRail freight hub, airport, and regional freight ring road. It will also need 22 hectares of land for a central stormwater/amenity/ecological reserve which would likely need to be purchased and developed by us. The number of properties likely to be impacted by zone changes to Area C is 29.

A map of the development planned for 2032.


Stage 3: 2052

The final areas to be developed will be 112 hectares split over Area D (90 hectares) and Area E (22 hectares). Development is not expected until 2052, and the way these areas would connect will depend on the design of a regional freight ring road and how it intersects with the northern part of the KiwiRail freight hub and the realigned Railway Road.

A map of the development proposed for 2052.

Improving our road network will be an important part of this work

A regional freight ring road is required to enable the efficient operation of a freight hub of the proposed scale, to avoid further impacts of heavy vehicle use on the city’s urban network, and to provide safe connections to and from Bunnythorpe village. Council and Waka Kotahi have a partnership called the Palmerston North Integrated Transport Initiative, which will see about 70 transport projects occur in the city over the coming 30 years. These projects are aimed at improving safety in our urban areas, and helping freight move around more efficiently around the city rather than using suburban roads.  

More investigations are needed to confirm each stage of the masterplan

This masterplan is a high-level vision at this stage. More detailed investigations into flood risk, stormwater servicing, transport upgrades, noise effects, landscape issues and high class soils will be needed to support rezoning for each stage through a public District Plan change process. 

We’ll keep you informed every step of the way

As the project progresses, we’ll be working with those affected by the proposed changes and our community every step of the way. We’ve begun talking to landowners within the planned zone and other interested parties.

Our next steps are to talk to the Bunnythorpe community and broader public at large, so you can understand how this 30-year plan may impact you. 

If you’d like to have your say there will be a number of opportunities for you to formally submit and be heard by the Council. The first of these will be as part of our joint consultation with Horizons on a Future Development Strategy for the region. This will happen in the first quarter of 2023, as part of our long-term plan consultation.  

There will be more opportunities to have your say as each stage of the plan progresses.

Sign up to receive updates


  • October 2023: Directly affected landowner information sessions
  • November 2023: Surrounding landowners and Bunnythorpe residents information sessions
  • April to May 2024: Draft Long-Term Plan and Future Development Strategy open for public submissions
  • 2024-25: Planning investigations to rezone Stage 1 would start and public consultation on Stage 1
  • 2025-26: Infrastructure provision would start for Stage 1 if approved and limited consultation with affected landowners
  • 2030-31: Planning investigations to rezone Stage 2 (possibly Stage 3 as well) would start and public consultation on Stage 2
  • 2032: Infrastructure provision would start for Stage 2 if approved and limited consultation with affected landowners
  • 2052: Infrastructure provision would start for Stage 3 if approved and limited consultation with affected landowners

Contact details

City planning team
06 356 8199