5 Awesome Things To Do In Timaru, NZ

things to do in timaru nz

Take a break in Timaru and enjoy the beachside attractions of Caroline Bay. You’ll find botanic gardens, an aviary and wonderful walks in the southern Canterbury region of New Zealand. Read our complete list of the best things to do during your visit.

1. Timaru Botanic Gardens

Timaru Botanic Garden, New Zealand
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Michal Klajban used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Timaru Botanic Gardens has been designed for recreation in south Timaru since 1864, when the location was initially gazetted as a public reserve. In 2014 the Timaru Botanic Gardens was documented as a Garden of National Significance by the New Zealand Gardens Trust. The ornate Gloucester Gates form as the main entrance, which is at the Queen Street end near the corner of King Street. The gates were first opened by Duke of Gloucester in 1935.

In 1938, land for the Timaru Hospital was subdivided from the Botanic Gardens, providing patients and visitors a lovely environment for rest, recuperation and reflection. Bring the children on a Saturday for a picnic where they can feed the ducks and have a great time or just come for a stroll and admire the beauty. A lovely afternoon can be utilized with family and friends in the relaxing surroundings of the gardens. The Timaru Botanic Gardens provides some very striking landscapes for plant lovers and photographers too.

Timaru Botanic Gardens

Address: Corner of King & Queen Street, Timaru, New Zealand

Website: Timaru Botanic Gardens

2. Caroline Bay

Caroline Bay
Source: Photo by Flickr user Enrique Fernández used under CC BY 2.0

Caroline Bay is the most extensively known park in the Timaru District. The beach is protected by the harbor breakwater and is the only sandy beach between Oamaru and Banks Peninsula. Associated with the prevalent swimming beach is the once a year summer carnival, organized by the Caroline Bay Association. The carnival has been functioning for over a hundred years and attracts people from New Zealand and delivers non-stop entertainment every Christmas. The carnival is a traditional family affair with free concerts, rides and sideshow style games.

Caroline Bay Boardwalk, The Bay Hill and Piazza present you with spectacular sights of the far away Southern Alps and Caroline Bay. Go for a fascinating walk heading north past the Benvenue Cliffs and to the Dashing Rocks. A bright, vibrant social scene is organized by the restaurants and cafés that connect the beach to the main shopping zone. Take a stroll along The Shakespeare Walk through the gardens and admire the Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden, which comprises a huge collection of old roses. Possibly the best triumph the Caroline Bay Park achieves is the timber boardwalk on the beach, winding around the artificial sand dunes implanted with native grasses and wetland.

Caroline Bay is also home to a great skate park, so if your children want to skateboard, this is the ideal place to visit. Here your kids can get encouragement from young skaters, honing their skills, and be amused watching talented young skate-boarders. There are rails, ramps, steps and plenty of smooth concrete surfaces for use.

Caroline Bay

Address: Timaru Port, Timaru 7910, New Zealand

Website: Caroline Bay

3. South Canterbury Museum

South Canterbury Museum
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Karora used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Nature, history and the tales of the native people are all encompassed in the South Canterbury Museum. This is a place where you can discover the region’s rich legacy. From relics to current trends, there are a lot of things to check out in their displays and changing exhibitions. The museum is located on Perth Street, downtown Timaru, alongside the historic St Mary’s Church, and is open on all days except Mondays. Discover South Canterbury’s natural legacy through displays of local geology, fossils and the rich forest atmosphere, which once encompassed this region. Take a trip back through time with the help of the displays from the last 150 years, and discover how people lived their lives through the decades.

Explore the local Maori antiquity through the Takata Whenua exhibition and discover how local communities existed. Trail the incidents of the European colonists’ arrival and how South Canterbury advanced into a flourishing area. In between displays is the legend of Richard Pearse, who designed and built an aircraft in his farm shed in 1903. A replica of his first design suspends from the museum’s ceiling. The museum’s exploration area offers admission to thousands of historic images and archival documents. Visitors can also view short films about local folklore in the museum’s Heritage Theatre.

South Canterbury Museum

Address: 4 Perth St, Timaru Central, Timaru 7910, New Zealand

Website: South Canterbury Museum

4. Aigantighe Art Gallery

Aigantighe Art Gallery - 13 - House - North side
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user David Nind used under CC0

The Aigantighe Art Gallery in Timaru is home to the art culture in South Canterbury, with a grand collection and miscellaneous exhibition program. Its name is derived from the Scottish Gaelic word for ‘At Home’ and is pronounced ‘Egg N Tie.’ The Aigantighe Art Gallery has a wide collection of national and international art, ranging from the 16th-century to the present day. The British Victorian paintings in this gallery are predominant and so is that of the country’s beloved Charles Goldie, Frances Hodgkins and Colin McCahon. A frequently moving display of works from this assemblage is revealed in the original Edwardian house, which primarily fashioned the art gallery when it was bequeathed to the city in 1956.

The modern annex of the Aigantighe Art Gallery exhibits the efforts of local artists and hosts traveling exhibitions. The gallery provides abundant activities for children, from art books and drawing materials to dress-ups and art hunts. Aigantighe Art Gallery’s park-like grounds are always open to the public, featuring a wide variety of permanent sculptures set amongst established trees and gardens. The art gallery is free for all and open all days except Mondays.

The Aigantighe Art Gallery

Address: 49 Wai-Iti Rd, Maori Hill, Timaru 7910, New Zealand

Website: The Aigantighe Art Gallery

5. Te Ana Māori Rock Art

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Explore the fascinating tales of the Māori rock art at Timaru’s tribal Rock Art Centre. Witness the most noteworthy collection of the ancient Māori rock art in New Zealand and hear the tribal stories and traditions from the local Māori guides. Relish the incredible interactive display and involve yourself in the petrifying attack of Pouākai, the world’s largest eagle which wandered the skies more than 500 years ago; take refuge in the ‘Cave of the Taniwha’ where the rock art is fashioned right before your eyes.

Extend your horizon of the Te Ana Maori Rock Art on their rock art site excursions, as their guides part with stories of their ancestors on the same paths that they once toured. Take an expedition to these cherished places of the Maori tribes and experience the past when you arrive at a group of treasured rock art sites. Trail along the footsteps of the Māori ancestors and study their way of living and the renaissance of this aspect of their precious tribal culture.

Te Ana Māori Rock Art

Address: 2 George St, Timaru Central, Timaru 7910, New Zealand

Website: Te Ana

Be amazed nonetheless

Lake Tekapo
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user [Unknown] used under CC BY-SA 3.0

You can find one of the oldest Botanic Gardens in Timaru, which will astonish you with the profundity and quality of its assorted plants. Take a pleasant stopover at Caroline Bay where you can access safe swimming beaches, botanic gardens, a landscaped forum and delightful walks. A collection of restaurants and cafés link the beach to the main shopping area. The city’s outstanding museum has moa-hunter artifacts and varieties of whaling relics or check out the astonishing Te Ana Maori Rock art and be amazed! Immerse yourself in culture in Timaru.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Darryl Gonsalves is a serial entrepreneur and owns Syena-Tech.com a business intelligence consultancy company and Nidago.com a web content solutions providing company both based in Mumbai, India....Read more

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