Timaru Tourist Attractions
The port of Timaru (pop. 28,000), the second-largest town in Canterbury region, lies on the east coast, on the southern edge of the great Canterbury Plain, halfway between Christchurch and Dunedin. Along the coast extend the Tertiary basalts known as Timaru bluestone, forming a sheltered natural harbor. The Maori place name Te Maru means 'sheltered place'. Timaru is an important port for exports (particularly frozen meat) and the commercial and administrative center of an extensive hinterland.
The place to go to in Timaru is Caroline Bay, with its parks and entertainment and leisure facilities. It is particularly lively and busy in summer. At Christmas it is the venue of the Timaru Christmas Carnival, a great annual occasion.
South Canterbury Museum
In a modern octagonal building is the South Canterbury Museum. It offers a survey of the history and natural history of the Timaru area, as well as material on the early flights by the aviation pioneer Richard Pearse in 1903. Opposite the museum is an obelisk commemorating the victims of two shipwrecks in 1882.
At the north end of Caroline Bay is Maori Park, in which is an eye-catching wooden lighthouse (1877).
St Mary's Church
Beside the South Canterbury Museum is St Mary's Church (1886; Anglican), built in the local bluestone in Early English style.
Basilica of the Sacred Heart
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart (1911 by FW Petre; RC) boasts twin towers and a copper dome.
Aigantighe Art Gallery
The Aigantighe Art Gallery, housed in an elegant building of 1908 in Wai-iti Road, has a fine collection that includes works by New Zealand artists. Attached to the gallery is a sculpture garden.
Address: 49 Wai-iti Road, New Zealand
Opening hours: 10am-4pm; Sun: 12pm-4pm; Sat: 12pm-4pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26)
Useful tips: Sculpture garden is always open.
To the north of the town is the Washdike industrial zone. The name refers to an old installation that once existed in this area, in which sheep were washed before shearing. Visitors can see round textile factories and milling works.
The popular City Walkway runs through Centennial Park and continues along the coast.
There are some interesting natural and historical attractions in the Timaru surrounding area.
Maori Rock Paintings
In a wide area round Timaru, in caves and rock overhangs, are rock paintings by Maoris or their predecessors from a very early period. The finest are at Dog Rock, 1km east of Cave, and Craigmore, 30km southwest. Information is available from the visitor center in George Street, Timaru.
35km west of Timaru on Highway 8 is the hamlet of Cave (pop. 130), which grew up round an outpost of the huge Levels sheep station that once belonged to the Rhodes brothers. It was from this farm that the notorious Scottish sheep stealer James McKenzie allegedly stole sheep and then drove them into the unexplored highland country.
St David's Memorial Church
On a hill 2km from Cave is St David's Memorial Church (Presbyterian), which commemorates the pioneers of the Mackenzie highlands. This beautiful little neo-Romanesque church with a battlemented tower is built of natural ice-smoothed stone.
Pleasant Point Museum and Railway
Restored steam trains leave from the 1875 Point Pleasant train station and travel to Keanes Crossing. At Keanes Crossing are vintage Railway Rolling Stock, including a 1922 and an 1878 steam locomotive.