Palmerston North is a city in the North Island of New Zealand and the seat of the Manawatu-Wanganui region. Located in the eastern Manawatu Plains, the city is near the north bank of the Manawatu River, 35 km (22 mi) from the river's mouth, and 12 km (7 mi) from the end of the Manawatu Gorge. It is about 140 km (87 mi) north of the capital, Wellington.
The official limits of the city take in rural areas to the south, north-east, north-west and west of the main urban area, extending to the Tararua Ranges; including the town of Ashhurst at the mouth of the Manawatu Gorge, the villages of Bunnythorpe and Longburn in the north and west respectively. The city covers a land area of 395 square kilometres (98,000 acres).
The city's location was once little more than a clearing in a forest and occupied by small communities of Māori, who called it Papa-i-Oea sometimes spelt Papaioea, believed to mean "How beautiful it is". In the mid-19th century, it was discovered and settled by Europeans (mostly of British and Scandinavian origin). On foundation, the settlement was bestowed the name Palmerston, in honour of Viscount Palmerston, a former British Prime Minister. The suffix "North" was added in 1871 by the Post Office to distinguish the settlement from Palmerston in the South Island. The Māori transliteration of Palmerston North, is Pamutana (Nota). However, Te Papaioea is the preferred Māori name. In recent years the city has been nicknamed "Palmy" by locals.
Early Palmerston North relied on public works and sawmilling. The west coast railway was built in 1886, linking the town to Wellington, and Palmerston North benefited from a booming pastoral farming industry. Linton Military Camp, Palmerston North Hospital, and the establishment of Massey University (in 1927) have reduced the dependence on farming since the early 20th century.
Palmerston North is the country's seventh-largest city and eighth-largest urban area, with an urban population of 84,300 (June 2016).