In Timaru, you can catch a glimpse of the world’s smallest penguin, take an interactive tour at Te Ana Maori Rock Art Centre, gobble down an export-quality custard square and soak up the sun at Caroline Bay (voted most popular beach in the South Island in 2015).
We love good food
The Bay Hill looks out over the Caroline Bay area, it's home to a row of fabulous eateries. Insiders unanimously recommend heading to the Bay Hill at anytime of the day for refreshments while taking in the views. For more info check out these restaurants:
Fusion Restaurant - For modern cuisine which is affordable and outstanding
The Bay Hill Brewery Bar - Enjoy beautiful food with the best view in town
Little India - Absolutely delicious curries, dine in or takeaway.
Saikou Teppanyaki and Whisky Bar - situated just behind the Bay Hill row of restaurants, this is a must visit too
Our other hub if you wish to wine and dine in the city is around the historic Landing Services Building, home to the Information Centre, Te Ana Maori Rock Art Centre, the Speights Ale House and the Street Food Kitchen.
From ancient Maori rock art to contemporary street art
Timaru District holds the most significant collection of ancient Māori rock art in New Zealand.
Te Ana Maori Rock Art Centre offers an incredible interactive exhibition: experience the terrifying attack of Pouākai, the world’s largest eagle which roamed the skies more than 500 years ago; shelter in the ‘Cave of the Taniwha’ where the rock art is created before your eyes then takes on a life of its own! Guided tours to the rock art sites around the district are also available at Te Ana.
From ancient art to modern art, we love our growing collection, of street art! Street art has been transforming urban landscapes and communities globally. Timaru’s street art project has been undertaken by the legends at the Timaru Civic Trust and Alive Vibrant Timaru.
Timaru’s Aigantighe Art Gallery on Wai-iti Road is home to an extensive permanent collection of New Zealand and international art. You can visit resident artists in their galleries in Timaru City and Geraldine.
Beautiful Caroline Bay
Caroline Bay, is a beautiful recreational beach reserve right in the city. It was voted the South Island’s top beach. Caroline Bay is safe to swim in, and there are multiple walking tracks there and throughout the city. Keep an eye out for penguins! Caroline Bay is home to a resident population of Korora, or Little Penguins.
You can also wander through the renowned Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden, which is in full bloom from November to July. This garden was deemed ‘a garden of excellence’ in 2013 by the World Federation of Rose Societies. Designed by Sir Warren Miles, it contains around 1,200 old roses.
The Timaru Botanic Gardens also has an impressive collection of heritage and species roses.
Celebrate our history at the Museums
The South Canterbury Museum is right in Timaru City, and the South Canterbury Traction Engine and Transport Museum is a short drive north of the city.
History of Timaru
Ours is a rich history of Māori tribal settlement, European whale traders and colonial settlers who came to Timaru set up sheep stations.
We have tales of ancient moa bone discoveries, tragic shipwreck and murder (one of our earliest mayors was reputedly poisoned by a family member).
Even our airport is a bit special. It’s named after Timaru farmer and inventor Richard Pearse, who’s said to have invented powered flight before the Wright brothers.
We’re the proud birthplace of Phar Lap, some say the greatest racehorse that ever lived.
How to get here
Timaru is just two hours’ drive from Christchurch and Dunedin – and has daily direct flights from Wellington. More info on traffic options here.