Ashhurst Domain: Te Matairangi o Te Papa Rehia o Ashhurst

Photo shows aerial shot of Ashhurst Domain including the pony club grounds, with lots of trees and the river and hills in the background.

Have your say on the future of Ashhurst Domain

Discover lush natural surrounds echoing with rich birdsong in one of Manawatū's precious remnants of native bush.

Stand on the wetlands viewing platform and see what birds you can spot, or view the mighty Te Āpiti Wind Farm in the distance. With picnic and barbecue areas, public toilets, campground, playgrounds and walking tracks for your fury friend, this is a great destination for the whole whānau.

Ashhurst Domain is just 14 kilometres east of Palmerston North on State Highway 3, nestled beside the Manawatū River and the Ashhurst township. Truly nature's playground, the Domain has more than 54 hectares of barbecue and picnic areas, camping ground, sportsgrounds, kid's playground, native bush, wetland, walking tracks and river access.

Watch: Local mum Donna shares why Ashhurst Domain is her favourite Palmy park.


Ashhurst used to be the site of a pā. Otangaki is the name of this place - it refers to pulling out the weeds to prepare the rich soils for cultivation.

In the late 1800s access to the area was by river ferry until the first wooden bridge was built in 1886. When the bridge was badly damaged by severe flooding in 1895, the ferry was brought back into operation until 1909 when a replacement bridge was built. The current concrete bridge was constructed 1969.


Our pet-friendly campground at Ashhurst Domain includes showers and a small kitchen. You can check in at the office.


  • Powered site: $10 per person per night
  • Non-powered site: $7 per person per night
  • Children: $5 per child per night

Payment is made by cash or internet banking. Please follow the instructions at the entrance.

Camp rules:

  • No open fires
  • Dogs allowed under strict control (on leash)
  • Dispose of waste correctly
  • Have consideration for other campers
  • Leave the campground as you would like to find it
  • Maximum duration of stay is 28 days in any 3-month period.

A great spot for birdwatching

Imagining an earlier time before settlement is easy in the Domain's native bush. Native wood pigeons, tūī, bellbirds, grey warblers and fantails abound, their melodic call echoing through spectacular growth of trees, shrubs and undergrowth.

Enjoy an encounter with endangered waterfowl in the Domain's wetland area, or catch a glimpse of white-faced herons, pied stilts, swans and numerous species of duck from the elevated viewing platform. Important for species conservation, the wetland is a storehouse for plants and insects, and helps with the region's flood control.

Photo shows closeup of child gazing upwards and touching the trunk of a huge tree.  

River access

In summer take refuge in the cooling waters of the Manawatū River. Swimming areas at the base of the Domain are a popular haunt. Or try your luck with the river's many trout – but make sure you get a fishing licence first!

The Domain is an ideal spot for canoeing and kayaking. And you can enjoy jet skiing and other motorised water sports on the river, just not around the swimming areas.

We’re encouraging everyone to be safe around our awa (river) this summer.

Water Safety NZ says anyone near our awa should follow these handy tips to keep you and your whānau safe.

Wait 72 hours after rainfall before entering the river

Rivers are changeable and unpredictable – particularly after heavy rainfall. Riverbanks can also become unstable during and after heavy rain.

Check weather forecasts including rainfall in the hills above that could fill the streams and rivers where you are.

Look before you leap – check for hazards

Upstream, downstream and where you’re swimming. Rivers contain hidden dangers and swimming holes can change depths from summer to summer.

Always enter feet first and establish an exit point before you enter.

Keep looking

  • Can you see the bottom?
  • Is it deep enough for jumping or diving?
  • Does the riverbed drop away close to the edge?
  • Could you handle the current if you got swept away?

Rivers can be dangerous for a number of reasons

  • They can be very cold.
  • They are affected by the weather and can rise and fall quickly. 
  • The current can be strong even if the river looks calm and the water is slow moving. 
  • A person doesn’t float as well in river water as they do in sea water; someone in a river current will use a lot of energy to keep themselves afloat. 
  • There are often hidden objects.

Signs of an unsafe river 

  • Water moving faster than normal walking pace. 
  • Discoloured, cloudy water.
  • Visible debris such as tree branches, rocks and logs.

A safe rescue is a land-based rescue

Dial 111 immediately if you see anyone in danger, so emergency services can get there as soon as possible.

If someone is being swept downstream, the only safe rescue is a land-based rescue. Do not enter the river after them. It is unlikely you will be able to reach them to help them and you may need to be rescued yourself.

  • Follow the person in trouble down the riverbank.
  • Find a safe place where the person may be able to swim towards the bank.
  • Use an object like a tree branch to reach out over the river.
  • Encourage the person in trouble to grab the branch or paddle and hang on.
  • Pull them to the riverbank and help them out.

If you cannot rescue the person safely from the bank:

  • Encourage the person to turn on their back and float feet first down the river
  • If practical, throw the person a buoyant object like a bucket, chilly bin or ball that they can hang onto and use to keep themselves afloat. 

Learn more about how to keep you and your whanau safe in, on and around the water

Download the translated posters

These are translated posters of the water safety information.

They are available in different languages. Download and share them with your friends.

English(PDF, 480KB)  Burmese(PDF, 541KB) Dari(PDF, 528KB) Dzongkha(PDF, 535KB) Karen(PDF, 531KB)


Feeling energetic? Take a trip along one of the reserve's shared pathways.

Photo shows children swinging on climbing bars in the Domain playground.  

Dogs and horses welcome

Some parts of the Domain are off-leash while others require your dog to be on a lead. Please observe any signs, pick up after your dog, and ensure they are under control at all times.

  • Upper circuit walkway: dog exercise area (off-leash)
  • Campground: on-leash

Please note, dogs are prohibited from all playgrounds and sportsgrounds, and the wetlands conservation area.

Chill out

Kick back and let the kids, young and old, wear themselves out in the playground or the sportsgrounds. You'll also find plenty of space to meet with family and friends for picnics and barbecues. Bring your own barbecue or use the Domain's. Toilets and shelter are nearby when needed.

Photo shows mother and child walking hand in hand through the bush in the Domain.  


Ashhurst Domain, State Highway 3, Ashhurst 4810  View Map

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