4 places to indulge in retail therapy in Palmerston North

What better way to get to know a region than by doing a little retail therapy? Treat yourself to a little something special in these four Manawatu stores – a souvenir of sorts.

Words: Cheree Morrison Photos: Jane Ussher


Looking for an unusual book? Need a new character to fall in love with, or hate with fiery passion? Bruce McKenzie Booksellers is a Palmerston North stalwart, a temple for book lovers who can disappear between the shelves for hours on end and emerge with a book they never knew they needed. Bruce and daughter Louisa first opened their doors in 1996 and more than 20 years later, the independent bookstore has a reputation throughout New Zealand as being at the top of the stack. It also hosts a range of events, from book launches to visiting speakers; visit the website for details on upcoming dates.

37 George Street, Palmerston North. (06) 356 9922


Faced with a doctor out of ideas and a child still suffering from never-ending colds and coughs, Lynn Kirkland turned away from the medicine cabinet and walked out to her garden. Twenty-five years on, the herbalist’s love of nature has become a nationwide business that’s dabbling in exporting to Asia.

The Herb Farm produces a wide range of natural skincare and healthcare products, all using herbs harvested from the 0.8ha of themed gardens that Lynn has built from bare earth. It is a family business; daughter Sarah Cowan is managing director and has inherited her mother’s love of all things natural. “We grew up with Mum making herbs and potions, so I shared her love of natural products from a young age. Everything is handcrafted on site – the herbs are picked from the gardens, then created and packaged here. Our goal was to engage people with nature; they can explore the gardens, then come in and experience the products.”

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Their rose face cream is a bestseller, with the mother and baby range not far behind. There is also a selection of natural options for eczema relief and other skin concerns. There is a café on site, as well as the Herb Farm store and gardens to wander around. Products are also available online or in health stores nationwide.

86 Grove Road, Kelvin Grove, Ashhurst. (06) 326 8633


Melissa Williams opened the flagship George Street Kilt store in 2003, the first of now 15 stores nationwide. She had dreamt of being a designer since she was old enough to hold a pair of sewing scissors – fast forward a decade or two and Kilt, now based in the Hawke’s Bay, is recognised not only for quality and style but for flying the flag for being completely New Zealand made, from design through to putting needle to fabric.

New stock arrives in store weekly, and the quantity of each piece is limited, so it pays to pop in regularly. It has also expanded to include both a bridesmaid and corporate range, which can be viewed at kiltonline.co.nz.

68 George Street, Palmerston North. (06) 356 7657.


Everything in Urban Charm begs to be touched. There are soft blankets of fluffy wool, wooden children’s toys that demand to have their wheels spun, books with glossy pages and glassware that needs a closer look. Urban Charm is a treasure-filled design store with a strong ethos towards supporting small businesses both in New Zealand and overseas. “I source products from all over the world,” says owner Karilyn Andrews, “but focus on ethical businesses and small owners and makers. Some products come from villages in remote parts of the world; our purchases help to keep their traditions alive. Everything is quality and ecologically sound.”

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Having a shop filled with tactile, comforting objects was Karilyn’s goal when she first dipped her toe into the retail world five years ago. Her background as a social worker taught her that creating warm and comfortable spaces helps people to feel connected – they can stop and immerse themselves; take a little time out from what’s happening outside the main doors. It’s simple really; just beautiful items helping to do a beautiful thing.

46 George Street, Palmerston North. 021 876 323, urbancharm.net

This is an extract from the 2018 edition of the Insider’s Guide to New Zealand. For more on interesting and unusual things to do around the country, pick up a copy of the Insider’s Guide,  available online here.

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