We spent some time in Palmerston North last week. This is the first time I’ve explored this much maligned town and I was agreeably surprised. The town centre surrounds The Square, which has pleasant gardens and plenty of benches. There are interesting shops and cafes fragrant with coffee. There is a fantastic bookshop (https://bmbooks.co.nz/) and I had a long, interesting conversation with the proprietors of Pork Chop Hill clothing (https://www.porkchophill.nz/) about the origin of the name of their business. The art gallery and museum (https://www.temanawa.co.nz/) are well worth a visit. Best of all are the gardens and walking/cycling paths along the Manawatu River (see pic above). There is a paved path all the way along the river and it is well-used, judging by the number of cyclists I saw. There are also walking paths through the bush between the gardens of Victoria Esplanade and the river. These are a delight because of the dense foliage and the cacophony of birdsong. Go to Palmy – you may be as surprised as I was.