Time to Get to Work – In Palmerston North New Zealand


After travelling the South Island of New Zealand for three weeks, we have decided to cut our vacation short by a few days and head to the North Island to get settled in to our new home. Sleeping in a different location each night has taken a toll on our daughter, Maddy, and the daily decisions of what to eat and where to sleep have proven to inhibit our abilities to recreate. Additionally, it’s been difficult to do the hiking and exploring we want due to having an 11-year-old. Let’s just say this: Maddy does not want to hike, fish or explore. She’s done with vacation and is craving structure and people other than her parents to hang out with.

After spending two days in Kaikoura and soaking up some surfing waves on the black sand beaches of the Pacific Ocean, we headed north and spent a night in Picton, the hub city for exploring the Marlborough Sound and the location where you ferry over to the North Island.

Picton, the hub city for exploring the Marlborough Sound and the location where you ferry over to the North Island.

We were fortunate to find a place in town that had access to ESPN and the Superbowl. We were the only ones in the bar for the first half of the Ravens/49ers game, but by the end of the game, the place was full. We spent a fine, rainy Monday afternoon sitting in a bar, drinking beers, and watching the big game at the Flying Haggis, a Scottish Ale House in the heart of this 4,000-resident town. Geoff Badenoch would have loved this place!

Following the game, we boarded the Interislander’s Aratere for a 6:30 pm cruise through the Cook Straight to Wellington. I had read about the white-knuckled ride and heard stories about the huge waves in the Straight from Paul Miller, a sociology professor at The University of Montana who spent a year on exchange in Palmerston North a few years back. Thankfully, our ride was like gliding on ice. The boat was six decks high and had a capacity for 670 passengers. On this evening, we had maybe 150-200 passengers. It was a wonderful outing in the rain with a beautiful sunset and double rainbow. To be frank, I enjoyed this part of our trip much more than I (and the Dramamine I took) had expected.

We arrived in Wellington – the capital city of New Zealand – around 10 pm, and the lights were stunning. The city was much bigger than I had anticipated. We found our way to a downtown boutique hotel located in one of the oldest buildings in the city center. It was pouring rain and windy when we awoke the next morning, so we decided to forego our day of exploring Wellington for another time and headed out of town to Palmerston North.

Palmerston North Site Banners.

We arrived at our final destination on Tuesday around lunchtime, so we headed straight to the city-center square for information and a recommendation for lunch. We visited with the staff at I-SITE, the phenomenal nation-wide tourism information system that provides all the services and amenities a traveler could want. This includes public restrooms, showers for a fee, free wireless internet access, brochures and maps and booking agents to get you tickets for anything you might want, including trains, boats, tours, events and more. As far as we can tell, all I-SITE locations are staffed seven days a week during the tourism season, much like what Missoula is trying to do.

We had an exceptional lunch of pizza and coffee at a downtown restaurant called The Tomato Café, and I was grateful. You always remember your first meal in a new town you are going to live in. My first meal as a new resident in Missoula was at The Shack, and it was wonderful! Mind you, it was 1985, and the restaurant was then located in the 200 block of West Front Street, where the Shoe Boutique is located now.

After four weeks of vacation, we began the process of settling down in Palmerston North. Tom’s teaching term at Massey University officially began  February 11 and ends June 22. Finding a place to live for about five months proved to be more challenging than expected. Despite that, I think we’re going to like living in “Palmy.”



Linda McCarthy has served as Executive Director of the Missoula Downtown Association since 1999. Prior to that, she served as a Sports Information Director for Grizzly Athletics for 10 years. She is a two-time graduate of The University of Montana, where her husband, Tom Gallagher, is a professor in the Applied Computing and Electronics Program at Missoula College. Her daughter, Maddy Gallagher, is an outgoing and kind 11-year-old who has spent all of her school years at Lewis & Clark Elementary. They can be reached via email at: tomlinda@centric.net.