I think every adventure blog these days seems to start with "It's been long overdue" and it's always true. I love adventuring to new places with George, but life and work get in the way and sometimes it's hard to prioritise taking a trip when I see the mountain of jobs I need to do at home with a constant house renovation project! With a month off over Christmas, sunny weather and my little companion returning to his usual social life soon enough, I took him out of doggie daycare for the day and we headed on an adventure to Palmerston North. We had stopped once before, on our way home from our Foxton Beach adventure but hadn't truly explored it.
As all of our usual adventures start, we always start somewhere close to home because George has absolutely no patience! for his first walk of the day. Heading out of town, we drove to our favourite walk spot - Lake Mangamahoe for a quick walk around one of the bridle trails to kick start our day. It was enough for him to be satisfied to sit quietly in the car for the next 40mins while we made our way to Hawera for our first official stop on this adventure.
All of the below listed walks were off-lead at the time we visited. I always recommend checking with local council websites before you visit since rules can change regularly and signage isn't always accurate.
Beech Place Reserve (Dog Park) - Hawera
Location for Google Maps: 41 Kamahi Avenue, Hawera
We arrived at Beech Place Reserve via the Kamahi Ave entrance, but it's also accessible from surrounding streets - Beech Place, Tawa Street and Ngaio Place. Kamahi looks to be the official entrance though with the signage, water fountain and poo bin located here. There are two unofficial carparks right at the entrance, with further street parking available nearby.
While this is a just a small reserve, I was impressed to find it in Hawera and clearly marked as an official fenced dog park. It's surrounded by local housing, and only currently has two small trees so doesn't offer a lot of shade on a hot day. Usually these places on our adventures are just a break from the car, a stretch of the legs and a sniff and water stop for George. It didn't disappoint, he loved having the space to himself to sniff the new smells and roll on the grass. If it was cooler, I may have got his ball and thrown it around as there is plenty of space to run, but George was happy just wandering so I left him to enjoy it at his pace. Time to head to our next adventure which was a bit of drive, but George was happy to snooze most of the way to our next destination.
Bulls Domain - Bulls
Location for Google Maps: 11 Domain Road, Bulls
We had a few surprises on this trip and finding a hidden gem in Bulls Domain was our first. I picked the domain as after some research, discovered it was dog friendly and a good stop after a long drive before we really kicked into high gear when we reached our final destination.
Originally I thought like any domain, its going to be some sports fields and maybe a walk around the perimeter. As we drove down Domain Road and saw it, it looked just how I expected. I must admit, I was pleased to see public toilets though after this long on the road and drinking so much water! I parked up beside the sports fields, noting these were somewhere George wasn't permitted and we headed along to the trees on the left hand side beside the kids playground to enjoy a shady tree walk. As I walked further towards the opposite end of the domain, I noticed a little wooden gate which didn't look to be locked and no signage indicated it wasn't somewhere we could go.
Making our way through the little gate, it gave us access to a little mini forest - far from what I expected! We followed the trail until we reached what looked to be the end, but then turned right to continue it around and head back towards the domain. As we reached the opposite end, I could see it had given us a shaded forest walk loop of the far end of the domain and signage at this end indicated it was a walking track. The walk isn't long, maybe 10mins depending on quick you're going but we really enjoyed the loop and we had it all to ourselves on this particular day.
We made our way back into the domain and George enjoyed running amongst the trees and grass for a bit longer, we had some roadtrip snacks and it was off to Palmy for our final destination and really kick start this adventure!
P.S. On leaving the domain, I did wonder if there were possibly more bush walks available. When driving into the domain, the bush on the left almost looked like there might be paths in there to explore also. I also thought I might have spied one near the kids playground too. Worth checking out if you're stopping there and have time to explore.
Pari Reserve - Palmerston North
Location for Google Maps: 1 Cashmere Drive, Palmerston North
By random we found this little reserve when I was researching for spots to visit. I knew it was small, but I thought it was worth a visit since our next walk was just down the street. We parked up at the Cashmere Drive entrance point, but you can also access this walkway from Waicola Drive. You actually have to walk just alongside the main road to start this walk, but Cashmere Drive is the best place to park for this start point.
It's just a short walk and I wasn't expecting much, but it's a pleasant walk along a mostly gravel track with a small pond area where the local ducks hang out. I didn't think it was suitable for George to swim in and he didn't seem to interested either. The walk probably took us 10-15mins. Walking from Cashmere to the Waicola Drive end and then back via the little loop you can add.
I wouldn't venture here especially, unless you're wanting a short mostly shaded walk, but it was a nice kick start to our intense next few hours of walking and exploring.
Poutoa Reserve - Palmerston North
Location for Google Maps: 2 Ruapehu Drive, Palmerston North
Now you'll have to use your imagination a bit for this walk....forgive us but we were four walks in by this point and my enthusiasm for walking this gravel path wained pretty quick! We pulled up to the entrance of Poutoa Reserve, although accessible from many other points and also most people seem to visit this area to walk the Stairway of Tane (you lost me at stairs but look it up if you're keen for a challenge!).
We started walking this track but I kinda expected it to be a nice bush path...maybe it is further along? However after walking a few minutes on gravel and being beside what seemed to be quite a busy road which was noisy and not the tranquil walk I expected, I decided we would cut this walk short and move onto the next. Poutoa Reserve looks to stretch for quite some distance so maybe we didn't pick the right part to start. I'd give this one another go if we were visiting again and start at the opposite end where it looks further from the road. If you're familiar with it or choose to walk it, I would love to hear your thoughts!
Ahimate Dog Park - Palmerston North
Location for Google Maps: 198 Maxwells Line, Palmerston North
Driving down the hill to Ahimate, it's hard to know where to go with a carpark to the left, another road to the right and then a long gravel road in the middle, that we now know leads to Ahimate Dog Park. As you follow the long gravel road down the centre of the park, you'll find sports fields to your left, which dogs are not permitted on. At the end of the gravel drive (which does have a give way system due to some parts being narrow) you'll find a one way loop system that brings you to main entrance of the park.
At the entrance, it can be overwhelming to see so many different tracks and know exactly where to go. We always make a bee line for any signage to try and get our bearings which just happened to be outside the fenced dog exercise area. This area is small, but offers a safe space for dogs to meet and play, along with some agility activities. George isn't a big fan of socialising in these sorts of spaces and with only a large puppy in there at the time, who I knew he wouldn't be keen on meeting, we headed on the trail instead.
Although there is technically a 'start' and 'finish' on the signage, we started our trip at the finish since this was just left of where we were standing. However even taking the main track can lead to some confusion....this park is not setup to be explored on one track and that's the fun of it. There are so many paths to explore you can chose your own adventure. George and I made our way down the main path and then headed off to the right onto a smaller path where we discovered the agility equipment - despite my attempts to bribe him with treats, George wasn't having a bar of participating in anything! Thanks to some locals we got a bit more information on how to navigate the park. The main track we started on leads all the way back to the main carpark where you arrive initially by the sports fields, the interior tracks weave around the park and can take you back to the start of the dog area, regardless of which way you decide to head, so pick and path and have some fun.
George and I enjoyed exploring the interior pathways for a while before making our way back to the fenced dog area and exploring the forest trails (which are also bike tracks) and finding our way down to the Manawatu River for a paddle. If you're standing at the carpark looking towards the fenced dog park, if you turn left and carry on straight ahead by the totem poles, you'll find your way to the river. You can explore some of the forest tracks on the way there like we did or just walk the main path.
There was so much to explore here with so many tracks in different directions, we barely scratched the surface. If you're in Palmy, this is one you don't want to leave off your visit list! One thing to note is that the river does have a fast flow. I wouldn't allow George to go any further in than a paddle, so be aware if letting your dog swim there that the current can be fast and unexpected.
Manawatu River Walk - Palmerston North
Location for Google Maps: 79 Ruamahanga Crescent, Palmerston North
The location I have noted above if you're searching Google Maps is actually from our previous visit to Palmy as this is a better walk (read about it HERE). However for this particular visit we actually parked up at Ruahine Street so we could explore a different part of the walk.
The river walk stretches a long way, and there are quite a few different entry points, but our first visit to this walk was a nicer shady tree walk, whereas this walk happened to be much more open, less shaded and harder to access the water.
On arrival, we parked up at the small carpark at 523 Ruahine Street, which accommodates about 10 cars and was pretty full on our arrival. As you head up the small hill, there is a concrete path that most of the cyclists use and then you can head down to the large open field area where there is a grass path that most of the dog walkers use. While dogs can be off-lead in this whole area, navigating the concrete path with an off-lead dog can prove challenging with sharing this with others, so we stuck to the grass path close to the river which was pretty quiet with just a few other dog walkers. The area here is huge, so plenty of space to run and easy to avoid others if you want some space.
There's not much to say about this walk since it is just a large field area with a grass pathway, and as I previously mentioned, for a better walk, chose to start at the Ruamahanga Wilderness Reserve instead. Much nicer on a hot summer day and easier access to the water.
Edwards Pit Park - Palmerston North
Location for Google Maps: 633 Featherston Street, Palmerston North
I've dropped this one into the list, although we didn't actually make it here. Google Maps kept telling me to turn, and I expected it to be a road. However after looping the block about six times missing the turn each time, I finally realised it was trying to tell me to turn into what looked like a driveway with large entrance gates. The gates to be able to access this park via the car were shut (I wasn't sure if this is normal), but we could still access it via a pedestrian only gate. It looked to be a fair walk from the gates to even get down to the park, and being our 7th walk of the day, I just couldn't bring myself to get out of the car and not know what awaited us at the other end! One for next time, and if you explore it before us, id love to hear your thoughts on it.
Linklater Reserve (Country Park) - Palmerston North
Location for Google Maps: 11 Peter Hall Drive, Palmerston North
I'll be honest with you, when we arrived here, we almost didn't get out of the car. My legs felt like they just didn't want to move and upon pulling up, it was full of large dogs, with big energy and I thought George was going to hate every minute of being here. But trust me when I say, get out of your vehicle for this one! I'm actually bummed we didn't come here sooner and have the energy to explore it all.
On first glance, this reserve is so deceiving! We pulled into the carpark, which accommodates a lot of vehicles and being after work time, it was almost full. From the carpark, all you can really see is a hill topped with a public toilet and when we arrived lots of dogs running around.
To try and avoid George feeling overwhelmed with the big dogs, we headed to the gate at the far right of the park and walked along the fence line up the hill. I was surprised to see as we made our way through the bush border past the toilet block that the reserve opened up to the left with a large dog agility area and what looked to be a pretty cool bike track.
At this point, I was thinking wow this place is pretty cool. Then the reserve said to me, hang on a minute..."you haven't seen the best of me yet!". Spotting some people walking through a gap in the tree line ahead of us, we pushed on and although both of us were starting to struggle, as we saw the reserve open up in front of us, we both got a little rush of excitement. George took off down the path, finding some more agility equipment.....which he just peed on, there was absolutely no attempt to actually show off his athletic ability. It was at this point I spotted a plane in the distance. What dog park do you know that comes with a plane?! I mean it would be rude not to explore it right?
We made our way over to the plane, as much as I would have loved an Instagram photo worthy moment, George wasn't having a bar of it. He knows my trick for a cute posed photo, and while he scored many treats at the plane, I didn't get the insta worthy shot of him sitting on the wing I had visions of. If your dog finds some treats hidden here, you can thank George, he lost many in the bark and was not happy about it.
It was at this point I checked Google Maps to see how big this place actually was and realised it still stretched a fair distance beyond the plane and potentially looked like there might be access to water for George to swim.
We walked the pathway behind the plane for a few minutes, watching Google Maps as we walked, but sadly what I thought was water, turned out to not be accessible. The track here continues and curves around in a big loop but by this point George was dragging his heals behind me and I was merely managing a shuffle so we turned back to walk the same way we came.
There is so much here to explore and same as Ahimate, we barely scratched the surface. This one needs to be on your visit list, and while you still have plenty of energy to explore it all.
This one officially ends our Palmy trip. With just a long drive home and a stop at Wanganui for George's roadtrip treat of chicken nuggies and a beach visit, we were on our way home.
Palmerston North has so much more to offer than just the places we visited on this trip, so we will be back again to explore more fun doggie friendly places. You can check out more dog friendly walks here on the council website HERE
Got a recommendation for us? Send us a message and let us know where you think we should check out next time.