Introduction

The rich farming region of Manawatu embraces the districts of Rangitikei to the north and Horowhenua to the south. The hub of it all, on the banks of the Manawatu River, is Palmerston North. Massey University, New Zealand’s largest, informs the town’s cultural and social structures and as a result ‘Palmy’ has an open-minded, rurally bookish vibe.

However, none of this impressed a visiting John Cleese who reportedly said, ‘If you wish to kill yourself but lack the courage to, I think a visit to Palmerston North will do the trick'. The city exacted revenge with an exemplary sense of humour by naming a rubbish dump after him. We think Cleese needs to return (it has been over a decade now) to explore excellent mountain biking and lush walking tracks beyond the city and great coffee, beer and friendly locals within.