If you were to drive out of Palmerston North on New Zealand's North Island, eastwards, you would, after about 15km, come to a sign on your left pointing you toward Ashhurst. The sign also says "Town Centre"

Only in N.Z. could the blatant misnomer 'town' be applied to Ashhurst.

It is, in fact, a pleasant, pretty little village, of some 1000 or so inhabitants, just at the western end of the magnificent Manawatu Gorge, which disects the Ruahine mountain range. The huge Manawatu river flows in from the east, and the smaller Pohangina from the valley to the north.

One particular feature is that it has a very high proportion of British ex-pats, most of whom work in the (so-called) city of Palmerston North nearby, but have moved out of town to seek the rural lifestyle they could never have afforded in the UK, and chortle with glee as they tell their family back home what they paid for their huge four-bedroom paradise on its quarter-acre.

The residents call it a village, the local newsletter is the "Village Voice" and the sports hall is the "Village Valley Centre". What dignifies it with the title 'town' (apart from the local council) is the fact that, because it serves the entire Pohangina valley, it has fairly extensive facilities:

  • 3 'dairies' (small local supermarkets),
  • 2 takeaways,
  • 2 pubs,
  • 2 hairdressers,
  • 2 cafes,
  • 2 restaurants,
  • 2 garages,
  • 3 churches,
  • a masonic lodge,
  • a returned services club,
  • a hardware store,
  • a garden centre,
  • a sports centre,
  • a swimming pool,
  • an antiques shop,
  • a real estate agent,
  • a medical centre,
  • a library, and, of course,
  • a school.

Unfortunately, apart from the pubs (which I wouldn't recommend), there is still not a damn thing to do here after 8pm.

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