Timaru is the largest city in the Canterbury region of NZ. The volcanic eruptions of the now-extinct (and unflatteringly named) Mt. Horrible created Timaru’s rolling hills. Volcanic rock was used to construct the many "bluestone" buildings in the city today. The European occupation of Timaru began when the Weller brothers built a whaling station there in 1839.
Things to do
One of NZ’s most popular beaches, Caroline Bay is sheltered by the harbour’s breakwater and comes with a colony of little penguins. Caroline Bay Park is the home of the Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden, which has over one thousand colourful roses. It’s also the place where the Caroline Bay Carnival is held every summer, so step right up if you want to catch some live music or admire the sight of the ocean from a Ferris Wheel or Turbo Coaster.
The diverse attractions of the Timaru Botanic Gardens include endangered plants, a woodland garden, a conservatory and an aviary.
The South Canterbury Museum has an extensive collection of artefacts, including local fossils, Maori handicrafts and photographs and maps from European settlement. The Aigantighe Art Gallery is the third largest art museum on the South Island. As well as a sculpture garden that’s always open, the gallery has both temporary and permanent exhibitions including nineteenth century Victorian paintings, Maori art and respected Kiwi artists.
Shopping and dining
Northtown Mall and Highfield Village Mall are Timaru’s main shopping centres, and there’s also plenty to see on Stafford Street, like clothing shops and coffee houses. Dine at an Asian restaurant, go out for pizza or come by for a drink at an ale house. Stafford Street is only a short walk away from the beach, and the bars and restaurants begin as soon as you leave Caroline Bay Park.
Timaru is about halfway between Christchurch and Dunedin, so take a look at our flights to Christchurch and flights to Dunedin to go with your Timaru accommodation and get set to take time out in Timaru.