Stadium: Arena Manawatu
Location: Pascal Street is seven-minutes walking distance from the central city
Georgia v Romania, Wednesday September 28
Argentina v Georgia, Sunday October 2
FMG Stadium, which used to be known as Arena 1 until the sponsors decided to splash the cash to acquire the naming rights in 2005, is the premier outdoor venue at Arena Manawatu. The ground is home to Manawatu Rugby and hosts anything from Air New Zealand and Super Rugby games to speedway and A-League (that’s football, if you didn’t know) matches. The year 2005 wasn’t just big in terms of money for the venue as it was also the start of a prosperous time. The major revamp, which included the redevelopment of the grandstand, was completed in March and that led to Arena Manawatu securing a host of international and national sporting fixtures. One of those was the British and Irish Lions game against Manawatu. Success though didn’t just start in 21st century as they had plenty of achievements before that. Arena Manawatu, which went by the name Showgrounds Oval back in the day, hosted a pool match during the 1987 Rugby World Cup and the first Super 12 match which featured the Wellington Hurricanes and the Auckland Blues in 1996.
The rest of the city:
Palmerston North - which is named after former prime minister of Great Britain Viscount Palmerston - is the main city in New Zealand’s Manawatu-Wanganui region on the North Island and is located near the north bank of the Manawatu River. The bushy region was first explored by Europeans in 1830, but it would another 30 years before something close to a town started to emerge. By 1930 Palmerston North was officially proclaimed a city with 20 000 people.
Modern Palmerston North has a population of just under 80 000 which makes it the eleventh largest city in New Zealand. It houses more than 70 major educational and research institutions and is a very young and cosmopolitan city with a third of the population aged between 15 and 30 years. More than NZ$1 billion are pumped into the local economy each year thanks to tertiary education.
The Square - a seven-hectare park of lawn, trees, lakes, fountains, and gardens in the centre of the city - is the big attraction in the central business district. In terms of climate, Palmerston North enjoys temperate conditions throughout the year. Don’t expect to see the temperatures rise above 25°C too often as that happens on average 20 days a year. Temperatures usually range from between 13 and 17 from August to October.
Fun things to do and see:
Take a trip down memory lane by visiting to the New Zealand Rugby Museum. Housed in the Te Manawa cultural complex in the city centre, it’s the oldest and arguably the first museum in the world devoted to the oval ball code. It contains New Zealand’s biggest and most comprehensive collection of rugby memorabilia and records, including some of the world’s rarest rugby artefacts.
If you want some adventure, then take a two-and-a-half-hour drive to Mount Ruapehu - an active stratovolcano at the southern end of the Taupo Volcanic Zone - to ski or snowboard. Ruapehu has the highest point in the North Island and includes three major peaks: Tahurangi (2,797 m), Te Heuheu (2,755 m) and Paretetaitonga (2,751 m). The mountain has the two largest ski fields in New Zealand and you’re in luck if you’re visiting it during the World Cup as the ski season is generally from June to October. Don’t worry if you are new to skiing or snowboarding as they have beginners’ facilities.
Where to quench your thirst and fill your belly:
Located in one of Palmerston North’s historic buildings on Broadway Avenue, Aberdeen on Broadway claims to have the finest contemporary cuisine, an extensive wine list and ambiance and exceptional service. They have a unique courtyard area with a retractable roof for the summer and an open fire for the winter. Aberdeen is famous for its succulent mouth-watering AngusPure beef and has a fabulous array of drinks to choose from.
Getting there and around:
Arena Manawatu is a seven-minute walk from the centre of Palmerston North.
If you’re coming from further afield like Wellington or Auckland by car than you’ll do plenty of driving. It’s a two-hour drive between Palmerston North and Wellington via State Highway 1 while if you’re travelling from Auckland it will take about seven hours to get there, but the view will more than make up for it.
If you prefer to travel by train, then catch the Overlander Train which runs daily between Auckland and Wellington. Capital Connection is a two-hour service between Palmerston North and Wellington.
Palmerston North International Airport is a 10-minutes drive from the city centre.