The Visitor Information Centre (i-site) in Timaru deserves a special mention. Not only because it is located in a beautiful historic building - the Landing Services Building - which you should visit anyway. Also the staff are incredibly helpful and friendly.
Surely it helps that Timaru is not overrun with tourists, so normally you and the i-site staff are not confronted by big queues, and they do have time for you.
Some of Timaru's attractions are a bit hidden and relatively widely dispersed, so you might need instructions on how to get there. Without clear directions and a map you would almost certainly not be able to find the Maori rock drawings in the region, and the i-site staff will also be able to tell you which of those sites are on public land and which are freely accessible.
It might be interesting what activities the i-site suggests for a Timaru visit, I have edited stuff like retail therapy, café and restaurant visits out of it because you can do this everywhere, and there is nothing specific about it in Timaru.
1. visit Aigantighe Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden
2. watch a blacksmith demonstration at the port
3. get on the water - take a Dolphin cruise
4. go rock- climbing, mountain biking or swimming
5. unwind on the Shakespeare Walk at the Botanic Gardens
6. visit the Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden on Caroline Bay
7. visit the South Canterbury Museum
8. stroll along the beach at sunset
9. play a recreational game of golf, bowls or tennis
10. tour the Brewery
11. plan a day trip to a scenic river gorge
Visitor Centre (i-site)
2 George Street
Phone: +64 3 687 9997
Fax: +64 3 687 9992
Photo 2 shows a more detailed view of the Landing Service Building and Captain Cain's sculpture in front of it.
As you might know by now, I am a bird lover. Although I prefer them to live in the wild, I also feel attracted by birds in aviaries – and if only I stand there and express my regrets that they have to live behind bars…
It makes me sad when they climb up the meshfences. But as I am no militant bird escape aid and do not carry pliers to cut wires with me, I think they might enjoy me talking to them and stimulating their brains.
So Kimi the Bear and I spent quite a long time chatting to a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo in the aviary of Timaru’s Botanic Gardens. Well, Kimi had a look, and Aussie – as I named the cockatoo – and I chatted. Kimi was already pleased that Aussie was not afraid of him, as this species at Wellington Zoo and the Ashburton Domain had been on earlier occasions. (See photos of evidence on Kimi’s pages.)
Aussie did not bother Kimi getting close to him and nearly poking his nose through the mesh but he was not really interested in him. He would not even have tried to bite the nosy bear. Instead he climbed up and down the mesh.
But he was mostly interested in me. While I was photographing some canaries taking a bath and shaking the water off their feathers, I suddenly heard a “Hello!” from the neighbour’s department, and that was Aussie who wanted to lure me the two or three steps back to himself.
Of course, I immediately did this, and with a big smile on my face I greeted back with a “Hello!”
Aussie rolled his tongue in his beak, and ruffled the feathers around the top of his beak, and gave me another “Hello!”
This went on about ten times, me and him repeating “Hello!” alternately.
I would have loved to know if he had learnt other words, so tried out some. For example: Aussie, Cockatoo, See you, How are you?, and: “Do you want biscuits?” – because this is what one of his cockatoo brothers at the Willowbank in Christchurch says ;-)
Aussie squeezed his ear against the mesh, as if he wanted to listen closely to my words, and be sure, he listened carefully, and said nothing when I got the wrong words, but gave me an immediate “Hello!” when I said: “Hello!”
After a while a young French couple arrived – they, another couple kissing on a bench in the Rose Garden, an old lady and me were the only visitors in the Botanic Gardens at the time – and had a look at the birds, and I gave them a wave and said: “Come here, this bird can talk.”
They were so very pleased and enjoyed me chatting with Aussie. They might have thought I was a bird whisperer, and I would have loved to leave them with this belief, but I really had to go. So I said they should try it with “Hello”, and so they did, and eventually Aussie would speak. I said good-bye to Aussie by saying “Hello!”, as he loved it, and left, happy that those French people gave the beautiful cockatoo some more minutes of entertainment.
Be sure, when I come back to Timaru I will visit and talk to you again and try some new words.
If you happen to visit the Botanic Gardens, say Hello to Aussie, and repeat it until he takes an interest in you. A little bit of patience is all you need.
The name Timaru derives from the Maori name Te Maru which means: Place of shelter.
It once was the only place where Maori, tired from travelling along the dangerous and rocky coastline in their canoes, could find shelter on the way from Banks Peninsula in the north to Oamaru further south.
The origins of the European town you see today lie south of today’s centre, at Patiti Point.
The first European resident was a whaler named Samuel Williams who arrived in 1837. A year later the Weller Brothers who were based in Sydney, set up a whaling station.
You could not call Timaru a real town for quite a while until the English ship Strathallan arrived with 120 immigrants in 1859. But it took until 1877 that a harbour was built, and when the sandy beach of Caroline Bay developed over time (see tip about Caroline Bay), Timaru became a popular beach resort. It attracts most visitors with the Christmas Carnival.
Favorite thing: Timaru is not too big as towns go though it isn't really small. The main street has been redesigned so you can bypass the busy shopping area if you just want ot quickly pass through. There are a couple of good cafes here if you need a stop and Caroline Bay is nice if you need to wet your feet before carrying on with your journey.
famous NZ legends where born and raised in Timaru....amongst them: Jack Lovelock, the Goldmedal winner over 1500m at the Berlin Olympic Games 1936.
in the Maori Language Timaru means...Place of Shelter....as it was one of the few havens for sea going canoes.A whaling Station was set up in 1839 at the Bay, called Caroline, after the ship who picked up the whale oil.
Fondest memory: today Caroline Bay is Timaru's main attraction and draws many visitors..anual Carnival does no harm the City and Country Music competition sparks the whole place up
the Aircraft of Aviation Pioneer Richard Pearse from 1903 can be seen..it is said, he made the first flight before the Brothers Wright even had an Aircraft build....well if I am the judge, I give it to Pearse on second thoughts, Santos Dumont, the brasilian aviator might have a say in that as well^..^