- Official club name: The Friendship Force of Manawatu-Whanganui
- Closest international airports: Auckland and Wellington
- Closest regional airports: Palmerston North (serviced by Air New Zealand) and Whanganui (serviced by Air Chathams between Whanganui and Auckland only)
- The maximum number of Ambassadors our club can host: 20
About the Club
The Friendship Force of Manawatu-Whanganui was formed on 3 November 2020 by the amalgamation of the Friendship Force of Manawatu (formed in 1989) and the Friendship Force of Wanganui (formed in 1983).
About Our Region
New Zealand is one of the youngest countries in European terms. Although settled by Maori in the 1200s, it wasn’t discovered by Europeans until 1642 then settled from the mid-19th century. New Zealanders have worked hard in the past 200 years, with a multicultural population growing to 4.5 million, to provide the infrastructure, industries and economy necessary for people to enjoy a modern democratic lifestyle.
Manawatu region is a dairy and sheep farming area with rolling hills and alluvial valleys in the southern central area of the North Island of New Zealand. Palmerston North (pop 90,000), its main city, is 145 km north of Wellington, New Zealand’s capital. Feilding (pop 17,000), is a rural town 14 km to the northwest of Palmerston North. Both towns are culturally rich, relatively flat and spacious with lovely parks and gardens, and a relaxed pace of life. Palmerston North, founded in 1866, is a major New Zealand communications centre which straddles the Manawatu River. The city has a wide variety of internationally recognized tertiary education institutions and research establishments. The vibrant student population and many ethnic groups provide a rich culture often celebrated in public festivals and performances. It has three golf courses, two horse racing tracks, greyhound racing, an excellent aquatic centre, regular stock car races and many other sports venues are used well every weekend.
Feilding, first settled in 1874, is proud of its Edwardian architecture. The community has restored the town’s heart, which boasts great shopping, no traffic lights and free parking. The town has a rural atmosphere particularly evident on Fridays when the farming community comes to town for the weekly cattle and sheep sales. The throughput of stock is the highest in New Zealand and the district’s reputation for quality stud breeding is respected worldwide. Manfield Park is an internationally recognized auto course and major events centre, hosting agricultural field days, international equestrian events, etc. The climate in Manawatu is variable, summer generally ranges between 16ºC and 23ºC and winter days’ maxima range between 8ºC to 14ºC with much colder nights. A 750 mm rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year. Wind can be frequent and is stronger in spring and autumn. Whichever season you arrive, bring clothing for all weathers.
- NZ Rugby Museum
- Coach House Museum – one of NZ foremost museums for horse drawn farm machinery and horse drawn vehicles.
- Marae to visit
- Robotic Diary Farm
- Manawatu River – 10 kms walking and cycle track
- Massey University – NZ only Veterinary School
- Accessible wind farm
- Genuine Dutch windmill and museum reflecting Dutch immigration in the Foxton area.
- Foxton estuary where Godwits winter over each year.
Whanganui is an historically old city in a valley at the mouth of the Whanganui River where the river meets the Tasman Sea. It lies on the West Coast of the North Island about 450 Km south of Auckland and about 180 km north of the capital city, Wellington. The city’s population at the last census was 42,200. It has many iconic heritage buildings housing boutique shops and cafes. It won New Zealand’s most beautiful City award in 2019 & 2020.
Two historic river boats ply the river from downtown. The paddle steamer “Waimarie” launched in 1900 and relaunched on New Year’s Day 2000 and the motor vessel “Wairua”. Both sail short excursions from the centre of town. For anyone seeking a more extreme boating experience it would be hard to beat the Jet Boat ride from Pipiriki to the “Bridge to Nowhere” built as part of a failed attempt to open the rugged interior for farming. Pipiriki is 74 Kms from the city by road which follows the river north with spectacular scenery, a beautifully restored Maori marae, early settler structures and many other areas of interest.
Whanganui has developed a strong reputation as a vibrant arts centre with many recognised galleries and studios. It hosts the New Zealand Opera School each January and an Artists open studios for 10 days in March each year. It has a glass blowing studio open to the public all year to enable you to watch our glass artists create their magic.
Attractions include many parks and Native Bush areas including :
- Virginia Lake, with its winter gardens and easy walks
- Bushy Park Tarapuruhi, a forest sanctuary which includes 90 hectares of pristine native forest, a Ratanui tree believed to be the largest Rata tree in the Southern Hemisphere and a category 1 heritage homestead
- Bason Botanic Gardens, rated as a 4-star garden by the New Zealand Gardens Trust
- Paloma Gardens, a private garden rated as a significant garden and given a 5-star rating by the New Zealand Gardens Trust. It has an exotic collection of plants from Africa, Asia and the Americas
- Kowhai Park (with its children’s play area)
- Sarjeant Gallery, which holds an extensive collection of art.
There are two mountains nearby for a day visit. The city has a unique lift, believed to be the only one in the Southern Hemisphere, which runs from the River level through Durie Hill to a view point at the top of the hill with panoramic views over the city, river and to the coast. A visit to our local Putiki Marae and its church decorated with traditional Maori carvings and designs is recommended, as is a visit to the Saturday River markets. The local museum is recognized as one of the top regional museums in the country. There you will find Taonga Maori artefacts and the largest collection in the world of bones of the now extinct Moa.
About our Programme
Arrangements can be made, with the approval of both the Host and Ambassador Coordinators and at Ambassadors’ cost, for groups to be transported by bus or private car from their arrival airport in New Zealand and/or to be transported between hostings. Overnight hotel accommodation and sightseeing can also be arranged. Costs for these extras will depend on the number of ambassadors and the current exchange rate. Hosts are located in Whanganui, Feilding, Palmerston North and the surrounding rural areas.
Updated 16 March 2022
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