Victoria Esplanade

Two young women drinking coffee and walking among cherry trees in full blossom.

Palmerston North's premier park with 26 hectares of bush walks, bike tracks and formal gardens.

It's got something for everyone in the family – thousands of mature trees, splendid roses, barbecues, croquet lawns... and the kids will love the Junior Road Safety Park, miniature railway, mini golf, playground and paddling pool.

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

Water Safety NZ says anyone near our awa (river) should follow these handy tips to keep them and their whanāu safe this summer:

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?

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)

Mini golf

Grab the kids and pack your lunch, the Lions Mini Golf Course is your go-to activity during weekends and school holidays.  

The course has been designed so the first nine holes are fully wheelchair accessible, while the back nine pose some greater challenges for players.

Opening hours: 10am to 5pm (only on weekends, public holidays, and school holidays)

Prices: Adult $8, child $4 and family pass $20


For more information, visit the Lions Club of Middle Districts website

Esplanade Scenic Railway

Photo shows families riding on miniature train at a railway crossing in the Esplanade.

One of the park's most popular attractions, this 2.2km miniature railway is run by volunteers, with stations at the playground and near the Lido. Keep your eyes peeled for its special events.

Open weekends, public and school holidays.

For more information, visit

Bush walks

Photo shows family walking along on a limestone pathway underneath leafy trees.  

With native bush, lush landscaping and beautiful gardens, the Esplanade offers a relaxing gentle walk through interesting surroundings, no matter your age or ability. Many of the pathways through the park are buggy and wheelchair-friendly.

Junior Road Safety Park

Photo shows gleeful kids on bikes in the road safety park.  

Palmy's Junior Road Safety Park is always humming. It's the perfect safe space for kids to ride their bike or scooter.

Central Energy Trust Wildbase Recovery

Central Energy Trust Wildbase Recovery provides shelter and world-class care for native wildlife to rehabilitate after treatment at Massey University's Wildbase Hospital.

Entry is free, and there's plenty to discover! With four rehabilitation aviaries on public view, two breeding aviaries for whio and pāteke and a walkthrough aviary which is home to a variety of native birds and ancient tuatara, you're in for a treat. Open seven days. See the Wildbase website for more info.

River access

Victoria Esplanade is a great place to access the Manawatū River Pathway

Paddling pool

Photo shows children playing in the paddling pool.  

Open through the summer, this historic RSA paddling pool has delighted generations of kids. There are toilets just 25m away.

Dugald MacKenzie Rose Garden

Picture shows aerial view of a formal rose garden.  

The rose garden is a beautiful spot for an afternoon stroll or a garden wedding.

Opened in 1968, this much-admired garden boasts more than 5,000 roses in named beds, in three sections: the formal rose beds, the New Zealand Rose Society International Rose Trial Grounds, and the plant variety rights collection.

Discover Dugald MacKenzie Rose Garden(PDF, 655KB)


Photo shows gleeful child sliding headfirst down a shiny slide.  

Set among mature trees, Manawatū's largest playground is tucked in off Fitzherbert Avenue or accessible from inside the Esplanade.

Photo shows child who has clambered up the fort hanging above the ground on the climbing ropes.  

The playground has features for kids of all-ages including a mouse wheel, all kinds of swings, various forts with climbing ropes and slides as well as spinners for those with cast iron stomachs.

Peter Black Conservatory

Originally constructed in 1941 and refurbished in 2014, the conservatory is home to a range of tropical plants from Africa, the Americas and Oceania, providing a wonderful botanic experience for young and old. There are informative signs on many interesting plants and a "find the frog" activity for the young – and young at heart. Come in and find out what vanilla plants look like and discover the bug-eating pitcher plants. 

Picnic spots

There are two free barbecue areas specifically set up for picnics, one in the playground and one in the central area near Wildbase and the paddling pool. With free electric BBQs, picnic tables, and plenty of space, it's a great place for a family outing.

Café Esplanade

This historic building was a post office in a previous life. Now the park's café, it's also available for events and functions. You'll find it in the middle of the Esplanade, close to the rose gardens, paddling pool and Wildbase. A great place to start or finish your Esplanade adventure! 


The Victoria Esplanade, 1 Palm Drive, West End 4410  View Map

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