Timaru is a town in the South Island of New Zealand. It has a striking piazza, with stunning views stretching from the popular and safe Caroline Bay across to the snow-clad mountains and hosts numerous cafés, bars and restaurants.
State Highway One passes through Timaru. This is the main north/south arterial road in New Zealand. The stretch between Christchurch and Timaru is not particularly scenic, so tourists with time on their hands may opt for the slightly more circuitous but more picturesque Inland Scenic Route 72 via Mt Somers and Geraldine.
Timaru is at the end of SH8, which leads to destinations such as Lake Tekapo (122km) and Mount Cook (210km).
Intercity operates daily bus services from Christchurch, Dunedin and other South Island cities. Tickets start from $1 (+ booking fee) and can be purchased online, over the phone or throughout the country at numerous booking agents, including the i-SITE network.
Nakedbus and Atomic Shuttles offer connections north and south, with some connections to Christchurch International Airport. Budget Shuttles provides a service to Christchurch including door-to-door and airport options. The Knightrider provides a service to Christchurch and its airport, as well as south to Dunedin.
Richard Pearse Airport is 13km from central Timaru and provides several flights per day to Wellington with Air New Zealand. The only ground transport is by taxi, private or rental car. Airport parking is free.
Many visitors to Timaru fly to Christchurch International Airport, which provides a greater choice of airlines and more competitive fares, albeit at a 160km drive to Timaru. Direct coaches to Timaru are available but it's best to check beforehand as these are infrequent (see #By bus).
Municipal Offices & Public Library
Being a medium sized town in New Zealand, the main mode of transport is by car. That being said, most attractions, accommodation and eateries are located centrally so getting around on foot is doable.
Metro provides commuter and daytime bus services during weekdays. There is a limited service on Saturday and none on Sundays.
The moderate size of Timaru also makes cycling an option. The Cyclery offers bicycles for hire. If you're into cycling, there are quite a few nice rides in the rolling countryside around Timaru.
In the port are magnificent cranes which play a pivotal role in wealth generation for the region. Marvel at the glorious array of artistic contributions to the city: the ferocious "Face of Peace", and the "malconstructed tubular bunk of Joy" which reside below the Piazza, and in front of the earthquake-proof Council offices, respectively.
- Caroline Bay, (Vehicle access from Virtue Ave and Marine Pde, foot access from The Bay Hill in addition to these). The Jewel of Mid-South Canterbury. A safe bathing beach and park complex in the heart for Timaru. Swim in the sea with the Southern Alps looming in the background. Don't miss the Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden located at the base of the piazza. Free. edit
- Aigantighe Art Gallery, 49 Wai iti Rd, ☎ +64 3 688-4424, . Tu-F 10am-4pm, Sa-Su 12am-4pm. Set in a stately home donated to the city of Timaru by the Grant family, this gallery features a mixture of permanent and temporary exhibits. The grounds and sculpture garden is always open. Free. edit
- South Canterbury Museum, Perth St, ☎ +64 3 687-7212, . Tu-F 10am-4:30pm, Sa-Su and public holidays (excluding Christmas and New Year holidays) 1pm-4:30pm. Set in a quirky hexagonal building up quite a few steps (level access available from Church St), this museum may not be the Louvre or even Te Papa, but still has loads of character. It gives a good overview of the history of South Canterbury, including natural history, whaling, the settlement of Timaru and the flight of Richard Pearse. Free, donations welcome. edit
- Timaru Botanic Gardens, Cnr King St & Queen St. Have a stroll in these pleasant gardens, bring some bread to feed the ducks. Free. edit
- Timaru's Historic Architecture, . Take a walk around the centre of Timaru, and take in the architecture typical of early 20th century provincial New Zealand. Many of the buildings on Stafford St have an Edwardian influence. Look out for the Landing Services building on George Street, built in 1870 from local bluestone. Also the Royal Arcade (between Stafford St and Sophia St) the Council Buildings (George Street), the old Customs House (Strathallan St), St Mary's Church (Church St) and the brutalist Warren and Mahoney District Library (Sophia St). As you travel around town you might also see some of the old brick flour mills such as Evans Atlas (Station St) Belford (North St, best viewed from Heaton St), Coupland's (High St) and Timaru Milling Co. (Mill St). Take a good look as some of these buildings are threatened by demolition due to increased stringency in the building code (even though Timaru has a low earthquake risk compared to other parts of NZ because of its location and soil type). edit
- McAtamney Gallery, 47-49 Talbot St, Geraldine, ☎ 03 693 7292, . Modern and contemporary art gallery featuring New Zealand artists. edit
- CBay, 11 Te Weka St, ☎ +64 3 684-2229, . M-F 5:30am-9pm, Sa-Su & public holidays 7am-7pm. Timaru's new aquatic centre. Indoor and outdoor lap pools, leisure pools, hydroslide, steam room, sauna, spa. Fitness centre also on site. $5.00 for adults, $3.50 for children, discounts and extras available. edit
- Caroline Bay Carnival, Caroline Bay, . Boxing Day (26 Dec)-mid January. Every year from 1910 the Caroline Bay Carnival has delighted young and old alike with a proliferation of rides, games and concerts. Critics deride its slightly run-down feel, proponents term this 'retro.' An experience to be had. Entry and concerts are free, individual rides $2-$6. edit
- Festival of Roses, . Late November - check website for exact dates. Every year with the first blooms comes the Festival of Roses. Private gardens open up for visitors throughout the week, shop windows are decorated, culminating in a Saturday market day at Caroline Bay with live music. For those less appreciative of floral delights, there is also an "open shed trek" on the market day, showcasing the regions premier "man-caves". Adults $5 for market. Admission applies to open gardens and shed trek.. edit
- Saturday Farmers' Market, 27 Strathallan St, . Sa 9am-12:30pm. Small farmers' market in the centre of town with an emphasis on local growers and organic produce. edit
- York Street Gallery, 21 York St, Seaview, ☎ +64 3 684-4795, . M-Sa 11am-3pm. Set in an old settlers' cottage, this quirky gallery showcases paintings and sculptures by local artists. Something for every budget. edit
- Opulence on Stafford, 297 Stafford St, ☎ +64 3 688-8864. Tu-F 11am-4pm. Purveyors in fine antiques - jewelry, furniture, porcelain, silverware and crystal. Entering this shop you are immersed in opulence. edit
Most of Timaru's restaurants and cafes are concentrated around the central area, with eateries on the Bay Hill enjoying expansive views over Caroline Bay and further out to the Southern Alps.
- Arthur Street Cafe, 8 Arthur St, ☎ +64 3 688 9449. Funky cafe in an old converted building. Great place to go for a coffee catch up or a lazy eggs-benedict brunch. edit
- Fusion, 64 The Bay Hill, ☎ +64 3 688-8550, . M-Su 10am-late. A perfect location, overlooking the bay and the alps. Locals and visitors alike rate this restaurant for consistently great food and service. Breakfast $12.50-$18.50, Lunch $12-$22, Dinner mains $25.5-$32. edit
- Royal Garden Chinese Restaurant, 134-138 Stafford St, ☎ +64 3 684-8844. Su-Th 11:30am-9pm, F-Sa 11:30am-10pm. The Chinese restaurant for those in the know. All the favourites cooked with fresh ingredients and generous portions. Decor is simple. Popular for takeaways as well. edit
- Sopheze Coffee Lounge, 190 Stafford St, ☎ +64 3 684-9999, . Cheerful cafe on the main street. Great coffee and cabinet food. edit
- Speight's Ale House, 2 George St, ☎ +64 3 686-6030, . 11:30am-late. Set in the historic Landing Service Building, this is one of Timaru's favourite pubs with a good range of hearty grub and ales. Lunch mains $17-28, Dinner mains $24-35. edit
- Sukothai, 303-305 Stafford St, ☎ +64 3 688-4843. Tu-Su 11:30am-3pm, 5pm-10pm. Popular family run Thai restaurant on the main street, does great value lunch specials. edit
- Benny's Again!, 312 Otipua Road,, ☎ +64 3 686-9000. Generous portions, traditional provincial restaurant style meals. edit
- Koji Japanese Restaurant, 88 Evans St, Waimataitai (Across the road from Briscoes), ☎ +64 3 683-1733. Tasty but healthy Japanese fare at a reasonable price. edit
Timaru's Sacred Heart Basilica
Comfort Hotel Benvenue is on Caroline Bay, close to the CBD. A selection of studio, one and two bedroom rooms, suites or apartments. Has an in-house restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner. For the fitness-minded, the commercial quality gym is complimentary to guests and is open seven days.
South to Waimate, Moeraki Boulders and Dunedin. Go inland to Geraldine, Mt Cook, the Southern Lakes (Tekapo, Pukaki, Wanaka and Wakatipu). Head north to Christchurch.
Geraldine, a beautiful village on the inland scenic route with a thriving arts and culture community nestled at the foot of soft rolling hills and bisected by the tranquil Waihi River. The pretty main street with its venerable trees, gardens and historic buildings is always bustling with visitors and locals alike.
Peel Forest, a short distance from Geraldine is a small, sparsely inhabited settlement village that is an oasis of beauty and tranquillity set amid the dense virgin native forest. A popular recreational area offering many outdoor activities.
Pleasant Point, an ideal place to explore Māori rock art, sample the tastes of the award winning Opihi vineyard, or experience the towns’s museum and railway with its fully restored steam locomotives with the world’s only Ford Model T railcar.
Temuka is a small town blessed with several rivers, walkways and an extensive collection of trees creating a green and tranquil haven for campers, sports people, travellers and locals.