AAHH…Free Time in Palmerston North New Zealand


It’s been a relaxing few days for me as I have taken in a number of different events and activities in my Sister City immersion program. Here is a synopsis:

Monday: I got on an adult recreation league volleyball team, so I’ve been able to play some competitive volleyball. YEAH! League play is Mondays; practice on Wednesdays. This week I was one of just two women on the team, but we beat our opponent pretty handily. I got to play on Wednesday evening as well, and the level of play is good. I wish I could understand the Kiwi-speak a little easier.

Tuesday: I spent the afternoon at Music on The Square, listening to live music sponsored by an organization called Access Manawatu, which is essentially the public radio station here in town. I took my lawn chair, computer and camera and spent a few hours there. Unfortunately, there were hardly any people there and I stayed a bit longer than I should have. I had a chance to chat a bit with two of the parking enforcement officers. Unfortunately, I overextended my meter time and got a $12 ticket. Ouch! It makes Missoula’s $2 and $5 tickets seem pretty benign.

Parking Enforcement Officers.

Wednesday: I decided to return to The Square, first to pay my parking ticket and second to give Music on The Square a second shot. This time I parked in The Plaza Garage, which ended up costing me a $2.00 credit card only transaction. I paid the ticket at City Hall, where the all-services customer service desk was quite helpful and quite easy to navigate after I asked the uniformed officer standing guard which line I should get in. I then set up my camp chair on the lawn again, but the music was terrible, so I left after 30 minutes.

Thursday: I drove out of town about 20 minutes and spent the afternoon hiking in the Manawatu Gorge. I took the Loop Trail and enjoyed a pristine afternoon under the canopy. The start of the hike was marked with a pedestrian bridge built inside a two-lane highway bridge. A bridge inside a bridge! The views from the trail were stunning.

Friday: Following a day of chores and an early dinner, we went to Shakespeare in the Park, which was really Shakespeare at The Square. Local actors put on an amazing production of The Tempest, complete with three different location sets, sound, lights and singing. There were about 200-300 people there, and I thought it was awesome! Unfortunately, Tom and Maddy didn’t appreciate it as much as I did!

Napier is the Art Deco Capital of the World.

Saturday: We headed out for a weekend get-a-way to Hawkes Bay, which is about two hours east of Palmerston North on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. The weather took a little dip from a sunny, 75-degree day to a cloudy, 60-degree day, but it really didn’t matter to us. We drove straight to Napier, the Art Deco Capital of the World and spent some time walking down the Marine Parkway, playing in the waves, and taking photos of interesting buildings. In 1930 the City of Napier was destroyed by an earthquake (south familiar?) and they essentially rebuilt the city in three years in a very Art Deco style that has stood the test of time. I’d be interested to see what the design guidelines are for Napier’s city center! I thought it was beautiful and very interesting, and I was quite impressed with their marketing and events, cleanliness and feel. We spent the night at a holiday park right on the bay and had a great dinner at a terribly-named restaurant – The Hog’s Breath – right on Marine Parkway.

Sunday: We awoke in Napier – the first place in the world where the sun rises – and had coffee and breakfast Oceanside. After packing up camp, we returned to the city center for the Sunday Farmer’s Market, which was more of a flea market with a few fruits and veggies. We picked up some groceries and drove out to Ocean Beach on the south end of Hawk’s Bay. It was a little hairy getting there and the wind blew like crazy. We hung out for a couple of hours, while we ate lunch and Maddy and Tom played in the surf. It took us about two hours to drive back home to Palmerston North. It was nice to have a home to return to.

Next week we’re having dinner with John and Jenny Hornblow. John visited Missoula in 2010 during New Zealand Days, and he and local resident John Wall – who visited Missoula about 10 years ago – were recognized in 2012 for their contributions to keeping the Sister City program active. Next weekend Tom is going fly-fishing with Greig Cousins – a local agri-technology researcher – and a group of his friends near New Zealand’s “Great Lake” Taupo. Happy Fishing!




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.