Named to commemorate Queen Victoria’s 60th Jubilee, Victoria Esplanade has become a real gem for a fun family day out. Enter via Park Road, Manawaroa Street or Fitzherbert Avenue and you’ll find yourself exploring for hours on end!

Esplanade Scenic Railway

The Esplanade Scenic Railway is a must-do for those visiting Victoria Esplanade, young and old. Board the miniature locomotive at either the new station located near the Park Road entrance or at the children’s playground and travel 2.2km through native bush and the beautiful park grounds. Run by volunteers, the railway has been operating since 1969 and holds a number of special events throughout the year.

Open weekends, public and school holidays.

Victoria Esplanade Scenic Railway

Esplanade Scenic Railway Station, Park Road entrance

Junior Road Safety Park

Purposely built as a space for kids to learn about road safety in a fun environment, the Junior Road Safety Park has proved popular since it opened in 2017. Complete with a miniature roundabout, give way and stop signs, traffic lights and a station to pump up tyres, it’s the perfect place for kids to ride their bike or scooter.

Junior Road Safety Park

Junior Road Safety Park, Fitzherbert Avenue entrance

Wildbase Recovery

The newest addition to the park is the Central Energy Trust Wildbase Recovery which provides world-class care for native wildlife patients to recover after treatment at Wildbase Hospital before being released back into the wild. With resident animals always available for all to see, visitor hosts will show you around the rehabilitation, breeding and walk-through aviaries. Entry is free.

Open Wednesday to Saturday.

Wildbase Recovery

Central Energy Trust Wildbase Recovery

Playgrounds

Manawatu’s largest playground is located in the heart of Victoria Esplanade, with a separate junior playground designed for under-fives. Featuring a mouse wheel, basket swing, flying fox, whisper dishes, a rocktopus, in-ground trampolines and forts with large slides – this is the place to play!

Victoria Esplanade playground

Junior Playground

Dugald MacKenzie Rose Garden

Stop and smell the roses at the expansive Dugald McKenzie Rose Garden. Opened in 1968, today the gardens boast more than 5000 roses planted in named beds. Take a stroll and breathe in the fragrance from the 100+ varieties which are in full bloom from October through to April. This is also a popular spot for wedding ceremonies and photography.

Dugald McKenzie Rose Garden

Dugald MacKenzie Rose Garden

Bush Walks/River Pathway

Stroll the 3.5km of walkways, exploring 11 hectares of native bush. Pop out to the shared Manawatū River Pathway which stretches for 10km along the Manawatū River, 3km of this is through Victoria Esplanade. With scenic river views and relaxing bush walks, this is a great spot to unwind.

Manawatu River Pathway

Manawatū River Pathway

Paddling Pool

This Art Deco style paddling pool was gifted to the city’s children by the Returned Services Association in the late 1930s, and is a popular spot to cool down on a sunny day. With an under-the-sea mural backdrop and nearby bird aviaries, free BBQ facilities and picnic tables, this is a great spot for a family outing.

Open from October to April.

Victoria Esplanade Paddling Pool

Victoria Esplanade Paddling Pool

Cafe Esplanade

The park’s cafe, Cafe Esplanade, is located in the centre of Victoria Esplanade. Housed in ‘Victoria House’ which is a former Palmerston North post office, relocated to today’s site in 1989. Stop in for tasty treats, ice cream and drinks.

Open seven days, 9.30am – 4pm.

Cafe Esplanade

Cafe Esplanade

Peter Black Conservatory

The Peter Black Conservatory was constructed in 1941 and houses a wide range of tropical and subtropical plants. With goldfish ponds and a ‘find the frogs’ activity for kids, meander through the single largest collection of orchids.

Peter Black Conservatory in Victoria Esplanade

Peter Black Conservatory

Park Opening Hours
October to March: 8am – 9pm
April to September: 8am – 6pm
Note: The gates are locked overnight

Want to know where Manawatū’s top playgrounds are?

Check out our top five playgrounds, where your littlies will be entertained for hours!