Life as an F3 doctor in Palmerston North, New Zealand
Moving to New Zealand as a junior doctor, or even a locum doctor can be scary, so researching the town and regions where you might be moving for your F3 Year is top of the to-do-list.
Here, we’ll take a closer look at Palmerston North in New Zealand - giving you the inside scoop to help you decide whether it would be a good fit for your F3 year in New Zealand.
Where is Palmerston North?
Palmerston North is a city located in the lower half of New Zealand's North Island, in the Manawatu-Wanganui region. It is known for its rich cultural heritage, world-class educational institutions and picturesque landscapes.
Size and population: Palmerston North is a small but vibrant city with a population of around 90,000 people, making it the seventh-largest city in the country.
Weather: Palmerston North has a temperate oceanic climate, which means that the city experiences mild temperatures throughout the year, with no extreme hot or cold spells. Summers are warm, with an average temperature of around 20-25°C, while winters are cool, with an average temperature of around 5-10°C. Rainfall is spread fairly evenly throughout the year, with occasional heavy rain in winter. Overall, the climate in Palmerston North is generally pleasant and comfortable, making it a great place to live and visit.
Connectivity: Palmerston North is on State Highway 1, the country's main north-south route and is only about 2 hours from the capital city of Wellington. The city has its own airport, which offers domestic flights to other parts of New Zealand. International travellers can fly to Wellington International Airport.
What is there to do in Palmerston North?
Palmerston North has something for everyone. It boasts a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous art galleries, museums, and theatres. For nature enthusiasts, the Manawatu Gorge Track offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. The city is also home to many restaurants, cafes, and bars, offering a diverse range of cuisines and beverages. Finally, sports fans will enjoy watching rugby matches at the FMG Stadium, which hosts many major sporting events throughout the year.
Let's break it down...
Palmerston North has a diverse food scene that caters to a range of tastes and budgets. The city boasts a wide selection of restaurants, cafes, and eateries, serving everything from classic Kiwi cuisine to international dishes.
Local specialties include Manawatu lamb, renowned for its tenderness and flavour, and fresh seafood from the nearby coast. The city also has a strong coffee culture, with numerous cafes and artisan roasters offering a variety of blends and brews.
For those looking for a more casual dining experience, food trucks and street vendors offer a range of delicious and affordable options.
The city also hosts several food festivals throughout the year, such as the Food and Wine Festival and the Wildfoods Festival, which showcase local produce and culinary talent. Overall, the food scene in Palmerston North is vibrant and varied, offering something to suit every taste and preference.
Palmerston North has various foodie destinations catering to different tastes and preferences. Here are some of the top ones:
👉 The Square - The city's central square is home to a variety of restaurants, cafes, and bars, making it a popular destination for foodies. Some of the top picks include Brew Union Brewing Company, which serves craft beer and wood-fired pizzas, and Nero Restaurant, which specialises in contemporary New Zealand cuisine.
👉 Cuba Street - This lively street is packed with cafes, bars, and restaurants, serving everything from brunch and burgers to craft beer and cocktails. Some of the top picks include The Herb Farm, which serves fresh and flavorful vegetarian and vegan dishes, and The Fish Kitchen, which offers delicious seafood dishes made with locally sourced ingredients.
👉 Village Night Markets - Held on the first Friday of every month, these markets offer a range of street food, live music, and entertainment. The markets are a great way to sample a variety of international cuisines, such as Korean BBQ, Mexican tacos, and Indian curries.
👉 Tui Brewery - In the little village of Mangatainoka, only 30 minutes south of Palmerston North, you'll find the legendary Tui Brewery, home to the top-notch Tui beer.
If you enjoy water sports, or you’re interested in getting started, Palmerston North is a playground for you. Here are some of the top activities you can enjoy:
👉 Kayaking - The Manawatu River, which runs through Palmerston North, is popular for kayaking and canoeing. There are several rental companies that offer kayak and canoe hire for exploring the river.
👉 White water rafting - The Rangitikei River, which is located about an hour's drive from Palmerston North, offers some of the best white water rafting in New Zealand. There are several companies that offer guided rafting trips for different skill levels.
👉 Fishing - Many nearby rivers and lakes offer great fishing opportunities for freshwater and saltwater species. Popular fish species include trout, salmon, snapper, and kingfish.
Walking and hiking
Palmerston North and the wider Manawatu region offer a range of walking and hiking opportunities, with options for all fitness levels and abilities.
Here are some of the popular walking and hiking destinations near Palmerston North:
👉 Manawatu Gorge Track - This scenic walking track follows the Manawatu River through a beautiful gorge and offers stunning views of the surrounding forest and river. The track is around 10 kilometers long and takes about 3-4 hours to complete.
👉 Totara Reserve - This reserve is located just outside Palmerston North and offers a range of walking trails through a beautiful forested area. The reserve is home to several rare and endangered bird species, including the North Island kokako.
👉 The Herb Farm - This organic herb garden and cafe is located just outside of Ashhurst and offers several walking tracks through the gardens and surrounding farmland. The gardens are home to over 60 different herbs and plants, and the cafe serves delicious meals made with fresh, organic ingredients.
👉 Tararua Forest Park - This beautiful park is located about an hour's drive from Palmerston North and offers a range of hiking opportunities for experienced hikers. The park is home to several challenging multi-day hikes, including the popular Tararua Traverse.
👉 He Ara Kotahi Bridge - If you're looking for exercise near the city, locate the He Ara Kotahi pathway and stroll to Massey University over the iconic He Ara Kotahi Bridge. There's also a 10km pathway along the Manawatu River for biking and walking.
👉 Limestone Creek Reserve - For an exceptional (and free!) adventure you'll never forget, drive to Apiti to find the glow worm caves at Limestone Creek Reserve. Or why not pack your bike to do some of the Manawatu Cycleway, a country road ride that's part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail.
Beaches and Surfing
While Palmerston North is not located directly on the coast, several beautiful beaches are within a few hours' drive of the city. Here are some of the most famous beaches near Palmerston North:
👉 Himatangi Beach - Located about 30 minutes drive from Palmerston North, this long and wide beach is popular with surfers, swimmers, and beachcombers.
👉 Foxton Beach - About 40 minutes drive from Palmerston North, this beach is known for its long stretch of white sand and rolling surf. It is also a great spot for fishing and birdwatching.
👉 Castlepoint Beach - About two hours drive from Palmerston North, this stunning beach is located in a secluded bay and is surrounded by rocky cliffs and hills. It is popular for surfing, swimming, and exploring the nearby lighthouse and rock formations.
👉 Riversdale Beach - About two hours drive from Palmerston North, this picturesque beach is known for its golden sand dunes and crystal-clear waters. It is a popular spot for fishing, surfing, and kayaking.
👉 Paekakariki Beach - Located about 45 minutes drive from Palmerston North, this small beach is a popular spot for swimming, picnicking, and enjoying the views of Kapiti Island. It is also home to a historic railway station and a scenic coastal walkway.
Arts, culture and sport
Palmerston North has a vibrant and diverse arts and culture scene, with a range of galleries, museums, theaters, and festivals. Here are some of the highlights of the arts and culture scene in Palmerston North:
👉 The New Zealand Rugby Museum - This museum is dedicated to the history and culture of rugby in New Zealand and features interactive exhibits, collections, and memorabilia.
👉 Te Manawa Museum of Art, Science, and History - This museum features a range of interactive exhibits, collections, and displays that explore the art, science, and history of New Zealand.
👉 Centrepoint Theatre - This renowned theater hosts a range of local and national productions, including plays, musicals, and comedy shows.
👉 Square Edge Arts Centre - This historic building is home to a range of galleries, studios, and workshop spaces and hosts regular exhibitions, performances, and events.
👉 Festival of Cultures - This annual festival celebrates the diverse cultural heritage of Palmerston North with a range of food, music, dance, and performances from around the world.
👉 Globe Theatre - This community-run theatre hosts a range of local and national productions, including plays, musicals, and comedy shows.
How does the cost of living compare?
The cost of living in Palmerston North is generally lower than in the UK. According to Numbeo, a website that compares the cost of living in different cities, the cost of living index in Palmerston North is around 47% lower than in London. However, the cost of living can vary depending on individual circumstances and lifestyle choices.
Here are some specific examples of how the cost of living in Palmerston North compares to the UK:
Accommodation - The cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment in Palmerston North is around £625-780; in London, it can cost around £1,300-2,000 per month.
Food and drink - The cost of groceries and dining out is generally lower in Palmerston North than in the UK. For example, a meal at a mid-range restaurant in Palmerston North can cost around £10-15, while in London.
🩺 A doctor's view
We spoke to Dr Anubhav Kumar who is a Senior Registrar in Urgent Care living and working in Palmerston North. He told us there is lot to love about Palmerston North. Off the top of his head, you can skip the hassle of traffic, enjoy the beautiful rose garden, relax in one of the thriving cafes, or enjoy stunning river walks. You can choose your ideal lifestyle, from a peaceful village life, to bustling townships or city life.
Dr Kumar explained, "I chose to buy some land with a mountain valley view and built a 4 bedroom house with a big garden. I can sit outside and watch the windmills on the mountain from my garden."
"For me, the best part of Palmerston North is the very multicultural community. It's the perfect place to raise a family. There are good schools and many parks and playgrounds for kids to enjoy. I have 4 year old, he goes swimming and will start cricket next season. They even have teams for kids in the first grade."
"I would say moving to Palmerston North has many big benefits compared to other bigger cities like Auckland, it is safe, has a moderate climate, lower living cost (you can save and build your own home), and how can I miss this: a better quality of life. Here, I have found time for myself and my family."
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