Shannon is a small town in the Horowhenua District of New Zealand's North Island. it is located 28 kilometres southwest of Palmerston North and 15 kilometres northeast of Levin. The town's population at the 2006 census was 1506.
The main activities in the district are dairy, sheep, and mixed farm. Mangaore (5 kilometres east) is the residential township for the nearby Mangahao hydro-electric power station, which is the second oldest in New Zealand. The Manawatu River lies to the west of the town.
Shannon originally adjoined extensive swamps and was a headquarters for flax milling. The land on which the township later stood was part of an endowment of 215,000 acres (870 km) acquired about 1881 by the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company (WMR). At first the company had intended to extend its railway from Levin to Foxton, but afterwards it proceeded to develop and open up the endowment area. Accordingly, the line was laid along the present route via Shannon. The town is considered to have been founded on 8 March 1887 when the first auction of town land was held. Shannon was named after George Shannon, a director of the railway company. It was constituted a borough in 1917.
Shannon Railway Station is the most substantial of only a few remaining physical relics of the WMR, which was acquired by the national New Zealand Railways Department in 1908. The station is a stop for the Capital Connection long distance commuter train between Wellington and Palmerston North.
Today Shannon sits as a passing through point between Palmerston North and Wellington with two cafes, a dairy, an RD1, two pubs, 2 fish and chips shops, a primary school, a four square, a petrol station, and an art gallery. The township also has a strong rugby team and several netball teams.
A large percentage of the population is Māori with the local primary school being somewhat Māori-orientated. Shannon School is a full Decile 1 primary school (years 1-8) with roughly 190 students.
The town also used to house Helenstown, a large model town with miniature versions of many New Zealand landmarks, a working train and carnival, all hand made. The building is currently closed.