Timaru City Guide
Timaru sits at the doorstep of many inland lakes where sailing, water skiing, boating, windsurfing and fishing are popular summer pastimes. At least five Central South Island ski fields are within easy distance - all less than two hours' drive from the coast. Whether it's dropping a line from the wharf at Timaru in the hope of hooking a fish, sailing offshore on the sparkling Pacific Ocean, or tramping in nature's bush-clad hills, there's something to interest the whole family.
Timaru boasts many points of interest, including one of the largest man-made harbours in the world; the last remaining landing service building in the southern hemisphere; the famous and very safe beach of Caroline Bay, beautiful churches, gardens and parks, Edwardian architecture, theatre, art gallery and Museum.
Timaru owes its existence to the shelter provided by reefs of solidified lava (bluestone) from an extinct volcano beyond the town, named Mt Horrible. Early Maori canoeing down the coast named Te Maru, 'The Shelter'.
Within the gentle curve of the South Canterbury coastline the Timaru District covers 2,602 square kilometres of diverse landscape. Attractive towns, lush pasture, rolling downlands, green hills and clean rivers lie in the lee of New Zealand's magnificent Southern Alps in the west. The District's north and south boundaries are naturally defined by two rivers, the Rangitata and the Pareora, both known for good fishing and swimming. A stretch of land in the northwest corner of the District sweeps through 64 kilometres of dramatic scenery beyond the Rangitata Gorge to Mesopotamia Station in the high country.
Over 42,000 residents enjoy life in Timaru District. Moderately-priced real estate, good medical services, excellent educational facilities, an abundance of sporting and recreational facilities and a friendly community all contribute to make Timaru District a welcoming and attractive destination. Enterprising businesses keep the workforce stable. The temperate climate is conducive to the growing of all kinds of produce - from apples and berry fruits to asparagus, carrots, peas and pumpkin. A huge variety of flowers, including Calla lilies and peony roses are grown for both the domestic and export markets.
Timaru is strategically and centrally located on major transport arteries. Its airport and port facilities are provided as the natural distribution point for South Island exports/ imports. Cultural activities eg, the Art Gallery are encouraged . Sport has an important role to play in the daily lives of Timaru District families. Visitors are always welcome at the District's seven golf courses.
Timaru District sits at the doorstep of many inland lakes where sailing, water skiing, boating, windsurfing and fishing are popular summer pastimes. At least five Central South Island ski fields are within easy distance - all less than two hours' drive from the coast. Whether it's dropping a line from the wharf at Timaru in the hope of hooking a fish, sailing offshore on the sparkling Pacific Ocean, or tramping in nature's bush-clad hills, there's something to interest the whole family in a District which takes pride in its many assets.
Named Te Maru, "place of shelter", Timaru was originally a haven for weary Maori travellers canoeing along the otherwise shelterless coastline. Briefly settled as a whaling station about 1838 by the Sydney-based Weller Brothers, Timaru's first resident was whaler Samuel Williams. A large part in the area's pastoral and commercial development was played by George and Robert Rhodes, brothers born Yorkshire, England. They set up the area's first sheep run and freeholded 50 hectares of land on which Timaru's commercial heart is based. Timaru was sparsely populated until 1859 when the English ship, Strathallan, arrived with 120 immigrants. The townships of Rhodestown and Government town (Proposed by the Government, situated south of North Street) jealously competed until the areas were Incorporated as a borough in 1868. Development of an artificial harbour was begun in 1877, but ships continued to be wrecked in the bay into the next decade. As moles were extended from the landing service, sand began to fill the rocky beach to the north, making it a popular summer resort. In 1876, the first steam train puffed into Timaru's railway station.
Timaru, the urban hub of the Central South Island, has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years. Now that the island’s main highway no longer flows down its main street, Timaru residents have been able to reclaim the town’s Edwardian heart. Vibrant plantings of flowers and trees, and a more people-friendly landscape of paved areas, seating and vantage points from which to enjoy the city’s setting between ocean and alps make Timaru a great place to live and visit.
The striking piazza, with its stunning views that stretch from Caroline Bay across to the snow-clad mountains, is complemented by the development of numerous café-bars and restaurants that have taken advantage of this superb setting. They have enhanced the attractions of the much-loved Caroline Bay itself. Holiday-makers have been flocking to this stretch of sandy, safe beach for more than 100 years. This seaside haven retains some its traditional flavour with promenades, playground and picnic areas but stays up with the play with its long-running annual Christmas -New Year carnival that continues to entice in visitors from throughout New Zealand and beyond for days of entertainment and fast and furious fairground rides.
Timaru has preserved much of its historic heritage, both in terms of its architecture and through local treasures housed in the excellent local museum. And its Aigantighe Art Gallery has a well-deserved reputation as having one of the best collections of New Zealand art to be found in any provincial city. The city is now also closely linked with the rose. This flower grows superbly in the Central South Island and has been used extensively in both public and private gardens. Throughout the long flowering season, parks and streetscapes are awash with colour. The jewel in Timaru’s rose crown is the Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden on Caroline Bay. Complete with arbours, pools and a fountain it’s a sumptuous fusion of traditional rose garden style and contemporary design. Timaru’s growing popularity with visitors has ensured a range of accommodation options for all budgets - hotels to motels, backpacker lodges and campgrounds and a selection of bed and breakfast establishments, some in historic houses. Eating out offers the same extensive choice with Timaru now offering everything from an array of ethnic restaurants to cafes to a la carte dining experiences. The Timaru i-SITE, housed in one of the city’s most historic premises, the Landing Service Building, can help visitors with all aspects of their visit to Timaru, from where to stay to tailor-made tours of the region’s attractions.
Geraldine is located 36 kilometres north west of Timaru and has a population of 2232. Geraldine has a country village atmosphere and is well endowed with superb native forests. This is a town that has built its reputation as a centre of arts, crafts and plants. Each spring a festival of arts and plants is held where people come from far and wide to sample the local delights and admire the initiative of some clever artists. Geraldine was discovered in the 1840 but it wasn't until 1854 that Samuel Hewlings built the first bark hut in what is now Talbot Street. The totara tree which is planted to mark the birth of his daughter, the first child of European stock born in the area, still stands on the site. Sheep runs were the money makers, and pit sawmilling the second main industry. When the bush was exhausted, huge wheat crops sprawled over the plains. Talbot Forest Scenic Reserve on the outskirts of Geraldine is one of the best remnants of lowland native forest in Canterbury; it overlooks the village and has lovely walks, native birds and picnic areas.
Pleasant Point is situated 19km north-west of Timaru on State Highway 8, with a population of 1222. The busy township of Pleasant Point has recreational facilities to suit all, good shopping and several enterprising industries. Pleasant Point is also well known for long forgotten trades such as blacksmithing and glassblowing. The Pleasant Point Museum and Railway is a fascinating taste of the past. It has a host of memorabilia housed in the old railway station, steam locomotives, lovingly restored travel along a three mile track to Keanes Crossing. Here more engines may be viewed. When you are here you can also experience the worlds only Model T railcar in operation.
Temuka is situated on State Highway 1, 19 kilometres north of Timaru, with a population of 3,981 people. It functions as a service town for the surrounding rural area. Its main industry is the manufacture of ceramic wares from local clays. Temuka has a reputation for fine fishing rivers. The main attractions are the magnificent quinnat salmon, trout and at the river mouths, whitebait. The first European settlers arrived in 1853 to take up farming on the rich and fertile land. The area has built a reputation for dairy farming - the first butter factory opened in 1883. Today the cheese factory manufactures a large range of cheeses for home and abroad. Arowhenua, just south of the Temuka township, has long been the home of the Ngai Tahu Maori tribe whose descendants form the last remaining Maori community in the district. Their marae has been the traditional meeting place for centuries, dating back to an old fortified Pa at Milford near the coast. The community is still very active and the people of Ngai Tahu host groups from all walks of life. The area is used for many ceremonial occasions. A few kilometres west of Temuka is a monument to Richard Pearse, local farmer and pioneer aviator. Doubt remains over whether the shy young farmer achieved powered flight just before or after the Wright brothers in the first years of last century. But the fact that he did so without any of the technological or financial backing the Wrights enjoyed has made his feat all the more remarkable. Only a few excited neighbours watched in 1903 or 1904 as Pearse taxied his home built machine into position, opened the throttle, lifted off, and flew a short distance before landing on a gorse hedge.