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The Manawatu Gorge Track provides the opportunity to enjoy native bush only a short distance from Palmerston North.


Track overview

10 km one way

Walking and tramping

3 - 5 hr one way Easy: Walking track

Dog access

No dogs

About this track


Note: Use caution when walking the section of track from Ashhurst carpark, between SH3 and the river. Beware of the sharp drop-off to the river.

The Manawatu Gorge Track passes through a unique landscape of steep greywacke ranges covered in native vegetation.

The track provides an opportunity to walk through native bush, see a carving of Whatonga, enjoy scenic views and experience native wildlife only a short distance from Palmerston North.

From either end the track climbs steadily (and steeply in places) before levelling out for a spell high above the gorge. Five viewpoints along the way give spectacular views of the river, road, railway, reserve and nearby windfarms

After climbing up from the Woodville end, the Upper Gorge Bridge track gives an alternative route back down to State Highway 3. This track takes between 1 hr 30 min to 2 hr. Transport needs to be arranged as this track finishes at a different place to the start.

Note: there is no footpath along the state highway and limited parking space.

Getting there

Trampers looking toward the Manawatu Gorge. Photo: J. R Lythgoe.
Trampers looking toward the Manawatu

The Manawatu Gorge Track is located approximately 12 km east of Palmerston North adjacent to State Highway 3.

Access to the track from the west (Palmerston North/Ashhurst end) is from the car park on the left side of the road immediately before the gorge entrance.

From the east (Woodville end) the track entrance is located on the Ballance Gorge Road just across the Ballance Bridge.

Know before you go

The Manawatu Gorge Track is not a loop track - walkers will require transport at both ends of the track. Transport from local providers can be arranged through the Palmerston North i-SITE, freephone 0800 626 292.

If you are using two cars, park one at the Woodville end and leave the other in the carpark at the Ashhurst end. It only takes about 10 minutes extra driving to sort out the cars. If you choose to walk for an hour, turn around and come out the same way, it is recommended that you start from the Ashhurst (western) end.

A shorter 4km loop option is available at the western end of the track. See the Manawatu Gorge Tawa Loop Walk page for more information.

Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.


The weather can change quickly. Warm and waterproof clothing should be carried and sturdy shoes or boots worn.


Dogs are not permitted in the Manawatu Gorge Scenic Reserve. A long term, intensive pest control operation is underway in the reserve to manage rats and possums. Although the toxins are contained in bait stations that should not be easily accessible to other animals, traces of the toxin can be found in carcases, and can be spilt from stations when target animals are feeding. The toxins used have the potential to cause mortality or significant harm to dogs. For their own safety, dogs are prohibited in the reserve.

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