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The Manawatu Gorge (in Maori Te Apiti, meaning 'The Narrow Passage') runs between the Ruahine and Tararua Ranges of the North Island of New Zealand, linking the Manawatu and Hawke's Bay regions. It lies to the northeast of Palmerston North - its western end is near the small town of Ashhurst, its eastern end is close to the town of Woodville.
The Manawatu Gorge is significant because, unlike most gorges, the Manawatu River is a water gap, that is it runs directly through the surrounding ranges from one side to the other. This was caused by the ranges moving upwards at the same time as the gorge was eroded by the river, instead of the more usual erosion of an already existing range. It is the only one in the Southern Hemisphere.
The road through the Manawatu Gorge, State Highway 3, is on the south side, and was completed in 1872. It is the primary link between the two sides of the lower North Island. It is sometimes closed by slips, especially in inclement weather.
A rail connection was established on the northern side of the gorge; it was completed in 1891 and is now part of the Palmerston North - Gisborne Line.
The Old Gorge Cemetery lies on the north side of the Manawatu Gorge. Public access is available, but the cemetery was closed many years ago to further burials. The road is located just a few kilometres out of Woodville on the north side of the gorge.
In 2011 the gorge was closed after several massive landslips. It didn't reopen until August 2012, and parts of the highway were still limited to one lane. In October 2012 it was temporarily closed so contractors could destroy large rocks that posed a threat to traffic. Restoration completed in November 2012.
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- "Manawatu Gorge to open today". 3 News NZ. 29 August 2012.
- "Rock blasting closes Manawatu Gorge". 3 News NZ. 30 October 2012.
- "Manawatu Gorge recovery effort officially finished". New Zealand Transport Agency. 16 November 2012.