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An introduction to Palmerston North

Palmerston North is a youthful and dynamic city, geographically in the centre of New Zealand and well known for its high calibre educational institutions.


Palmerston North has an estimated population of 83,500.  Compared to the demographics of the rest of New Zealand, Palmerston North has a young population (especially high in the 15-29 year old category). This is reflective of the City's educational strengths and the presence of two major New Zealand Defence Force bases in the Region (Linton and Ohakea).

Area and location

Palmerston North covers an area of 395km2, and is the geographical centre of New Zealand.  One million people live within a three hour (250km) radius.  The City is a major rail centre with the main trunk line running through the City and lines to Taranaki, the Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa.  State Highway 1 passes through the region, and there are excellent roading connections north, south, east and west.

Palmerston North Airport has frequent domestic services to all major cities as well as numerous provincial centres.  All of this means that the City and the Region have major advantages as visitor destinations and for national distribution industries.  The urban area of the City is a significant service base for a large rural area the wider Manawatu-Wanganui region.

More about the location of Palmerston North


Palmerston North has been experiencing strong economic growth.  The City has experienced stronger growth rates for per capita GDP and incomes compared with the average for New Zealand.  Average annual total earnings growth in Palmerston North over the period between 2000 and 2012 was 5.0%, very close to the 5.1% average for New Zealand.

Economic measures present a different picture of the size of the City, with economic activity in the City significantly larger than the population data suggests.  This reflects the 20% share of the workforce which live outside the City boundary and strong growth in the commuter population over the past 20 years.  Earnings and job count measures suggest the City is much closer in size to Dunedin and Tauranga. 

The outlook for economic growth in the City is favourable, with City strengths in sectors  among New Zealand's fastest growing such as health care and social assistance, public administration and safety, and education and training.  Further to these strengths, the City's central location in New Zealand is contributing to above average growth rates in the logistics and retail sectors.  These five sectors account for over 60% of economic activity (earnings) in the City and nearly 70% of earnings growth in the City between 2000 and 2012.

Monthly and quarterly reports are produced on economic trends in the City and wider Manawatu-Wanganui region and an annual report is produced on the long-term trends in the City.  Sector profiles have been produced to provide information on the key sectors contributing to economic growth.

Community Demographic profile - (External web link)


The City boasts a wide range of educational facilities, including Massey University, Universal College of Learning (UCOL) Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, International Pacific College (IPC), English Teaching College (ETC) and a number of other specialised tertiary education institutes. With its great reputation, the City is able to attract both staff and students from throughout the world.

More about education in Palmerston North