10 Awesome Things To Do In Timaru, NZ

things to do in timaru nz
| 5 min read

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. Aside from the beautiful sceneries, you can also take your pick from the wide selection of places to stay here, which include Airbnb vacation rentals and holiday homes, which are perfect for family getaways. As for fun activities, there’s so much to enjoy here including outdoor recreational activities that you and your family will surely enjoy throughout your vacation. Read our complete list of the things to do in Timaru, NZ.

1. York Street Gallery of Fine Art

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

If you’re looking for some arts and culture on your trip to Timaru, NZ, check out York Street Gallery of Fine Art. The place is owned and operated by Debbie Templeton-Page, an established sculptor, and features an art gallery that highlights various contemporary and traditional artworks by renowned NZ artists.

The artworks here are not only for viewing but for sale as well. So when it’s time to go home and you want to take a piece of New Zealand’s arts and culture with you, this is the place you should check out.

York Street Gallery of Fine Art

Address: 21 York Street, Seaview, Timaru 7910, New Zealand

Website: York Street Gallery of Fine Art

Opening hours: Fri - Sat: 11am - 3pm (closed on Sun - Thu)

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2. Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden

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

Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden is a beautiful garden in Timaru, NZ, that gathers and preserves the collection of old roses by renowned rose lover, Trevor Griffiths. The garden was designed by architect Sir Miles Warren and features thousands of roses that came from different rose families in the world. Aside from the roses in geometric flower beds, the garden also boasts many stunning design features including pergolas, gazebos, a small fountain pool, and a classical bronze figure as a centerpiece.

Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden

Address: 7910, Timaru Port, Timaru, New Zealand

Website: Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden

Opening hours: 24 Hours

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3. Patiti Point

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

Patiti Point is one of the best things to see in Timaru. It’s a relaxing spot where one can fully appreciate the beauty of the South Pacific and the country’s eastern coastline. The beach is often used for camping, strolling, jogging, sightseeing, and fishing but swimming is not allowed here—although Caroline Bay, which is great for swimming, is just nearby. Most visitors just set up camp here, hang out with friends with some drinks, and just take in the fantastic views.

Visit Patiti Point with your friends now, relax, and enjoy the stunning scenery!

Patiti Point

Address: South Street, Kensington, Timaru 7910, New Zealand

Website: Patiti Point

Opening hours: 24 Hours

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4. Centennial Park

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

Centennial Park is the perfect spot to go to if ever you just want to enjoy a relaxing stroll through beautiful sceneries. This amazing park features a network of pathways that go through scenic routes with ample plants and trees along the way, perfect for walking alone or with family and friends. The park also features a challenging mountain bike trail that takes you to different topographies uphill and downhill. Other features include a picnic area, toilets, and barbecue grills.

Centennial Park

Address: Highfield, Timaru 7910, New Zealand

Website: Centennial Park

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5. Dashing Rocks

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

Be amazed by the power and artistry of nature at Dashing Rocks, one of the top Timaru tourist attractions. As the name suggests, this is the particular cliff along Caroline Bay where one can enjoy the fantastic sights and sounds of powerful waves crashing on the rocks below. What makes this place even more special is the possibility that you might spot some seals, penguins, and even whales—that is if you’re lucky enough.

Getting to this viewing spot requires a bit of hiking. But not to worry, though, as it’s not too hard of a hike. In fact, it’s going to be a pleasant scenic walk that you and your family will surely enjoy.

Dashing Rocks

Address: Pacific Street, Waimataitai, Timaru 7910, New Zealand

Website: Dashing Rocks

Opening hours: 24 Hours

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6. 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 is one of the most popular Timaru attractions and 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

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7. 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; not to mention offering plenty of fun activities in Timaru. 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

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8. 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

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9. 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

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10. 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

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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.

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Frequently asked questions about awesome things to do in Timaru, NZ

  • Which are the best attractions to visit in Timaru?

    Timaru is a special place with so many natural attractions that you can certainly take advantage of during your vacation, including Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden, Centennial Park, Timaru Botanic Gardens, the South Canterbury Museum, and so much more.

  • Which are the best activities in Timaru?

    A beautiful coastal town like Timaru is definitely going to be loaded with fun activities including sightseeing and fishing at Patiti Point, hiking up Dashing Rocks, and biking at Centennial Park.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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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