Timaru Things to Do

  • A huge staircase leads down to the Rose Garden.
    A huge staircase leads down to the Rose...
    by Kakapo2
  • A nice church at an elevated position.
    A nice church at an elevated position.
    by Kakapo2
  • The Education Centre inside the Botanic Gardens.
    The Education Centre inside the Botanic...
    by Kakapo2

Best Rated Things to Do in Timaru

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    Cycling at Caroline Bay

    by Kakapo2 Updated Aug 14, 2008

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    View over Caroline Bay from Marine Parade.

    Cycling in Timaru really is a pleasure. There is not a lot of traffic, and less traffic means: less idiots who accidentally or intentionally kill cyclists ;-)

    Plus, the hills are not steep, so you get around fine.

    You can ride around Caroline Bay, and from there explore the whole area.

    If you bring your bikes on/in your car, park at the Caroline Bay Park (Port Loop Road), and cycle from there.

    If you want to hire a bike, there are several places to do so, for example The Cyclery. It is located in 106 Stafford Street - which is Timaru's main business and shopping street. It is just two or three buildings from the Theatre Royal.

    Open Mon-Thu 8am-5.30pm; Fri 8am-9pm; Sat 9.30am-12.30pm

    Phone (03) 688 8892
    www.thecyclery.co.nz
    Email: ibike@xtra.co.nz

    Related to:
    • Cycling
    • Beaches

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    The Basilica Dominates the South

    by Kakapo2 Updated May 31, 2009

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    Basilica of the Sacred Heart, seen from the front.

    The two most prominent churches of Timaru are totally different: St. Mary's Anglican Church (near the city centre - see extra tip) is a perfect example of the English Gothic revival style, whereas the Catholic Basilica of the Sacred Heart (a little further away on Craigie Ave) is a majestic Roman style building with twin towers and a massive dome.

    The Basilica dominates the southern aspect of the city. The outside is cheerfully colourful, made of white stone and red brick, and topped by metallic green copper rooves. Within are an array of fine stained glass and a noteworthy altar that is made of different kinds of stone.

    The foundation stone was laid on 6 February 1910 and was blessed in October 1911.

    Update 1 June 2009

    Last week - on an early Friday afternoon - I tried to have a look inside the Basilica but did not succeed. All doors were closed, and there were many, as I could find out when I ran around the church. The parish office at the rear of the building was closed as well. But there were signs at nearly every door, saying that security cameras were installed. I hope they have recorded my desperate attempt to get inside the Basilica ;-) There was no sign about opening hours, just about the times when mass takes place, and this is several times a week. Plus they are open for weddings on Saturday afternoons, for example. We once arrived there during such an occasion.

    Related to:
    • Religious Travel
    • Architecture

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    Share a Seat with Captain Cain

    by Kakapo2 Updated Jun 9, 2007

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    Captain Cain later became mayor of Timaru.

    The two-storey Landing Services Building in Timaru is the last one of its type in the Southern Hemisphere. It dates back to 1870 and was built of volcanic bluestone and used for storage.

    The goods once were transported on small boats which were pulled to the shore by surf cables that were attached to buoys anchored offshore. The cables ran through chocks on the landing craft and first men and later machines pulled the boats along them by hauling on a rope. This was hazardous work, and often goods were drenched.

    Today the building - located at the start/end of George Street, is partly a museum with New Zealand's earliest life-boat on display, the Alexandra, from 1864, and it also hosts the Visitor Centre where you get plenty of free brochures and street maps, so you can explore the place on your own. And there is also a restaurant/pub/café where you can enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the car-free piazza.

    You can also share a seat with Captain Cain whose bronze figure sits on a chest on the square. He was a public figure and symbolised the pioneering spirit that made Timaru. This memorial is to honour his service to the town.

    Henry Cain was born in 1816 and went to sea at the age of 13. After 30 years of seafaring he settled in Timaru and opened a general store in 1857. When the town prospered he operated the first landing service. He became a prominent figure in local life and became mayor from 1870 to 1873. He died in 1886 after having been poisoned by his son-in-law.

    Related to:
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    • Architecture

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    Ski-ing

    by tinkabel Written May 4, 2003

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    Alex and Friend at Mt. Dobson 2002

    Timaru is a good base for a ski-ing holiday, About an hours drive to a good learners ski field. Most South canterbury children learn to ski on school ski trips. (the photo is my youngest brother on one such trip)
    Fun for all ages, lessons easy to obtain.
    Gear can be hired easily... either up the mountain (always best to arrange hireage before leaving) or from the Local Surf shop.
    Ski Season is June to about Labour weekend. depending on the weather. Good nearby Ski Feilds are Mt. Dobson and Mt. Hutt ALWAYS check daily snow reports for weather and need for Chains on your car. Bus trips to the mountain are easily booked from Timaru.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Skiing and Boarding

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    Fishing

    by tinkabel Written May 4, 2003

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    Alex and his Mullet.

    South Canterbury has many rivers, in which a lot of fish live.
    you can also go fishing from the warf, which is fun, no promises you'll catch anything. Alex has been fishing for about 3years and only just caught this little thing ....which he had to put back. A lot of the local kids spend their weekends cutting bait and thoughing their lines into the waters of Timaru Harbour.

    There are also Fishing tours, proper fly fishing tours around the area... Also Salmon fishing in the Tekapo Area (about an hours drive from Timaru) all can be arranged at the local fish and game shop.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel

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    Caroline Bay: A Beach just some Steps from the CBD

    by Kakapo2 Updated Aug 14, 2008

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    View of Caroline Bay and beach from the east.

    This is Timaru’s main swimming beach, located right below the city centre, separated from the Harbour by a narrow stretch of land – you could call it mini peninsula – and Marine Parade.

    The beach once was a pile of rocks but when moles were extended from the landing service, sand began to fill the area to the north. The artificial harbour had been developed from 1877. But only when the moles were extended the area became safer for ships which had often been wrecked before on their sailing along the cliffs and rocks. So the lovely beach of Caroline Bay which is very busy in summer was just a nice by-product of making the harbour safe.

    Like in Auckland and Wellington land was reclaimed from the sea – with the big difference that in Timaru you really see where the land once ended and where the sea began. The city centre (The Terrace) sits right on the cliffs.

    The amazing thing is that you just have to walk down several flights of stairs from, let’s say, a café or a shop on the main street, and you are right down at the beach. Really fantastic.

    Related to:
    • Beaches

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    The Piazza

    by Kakapo2 Updated Aug 14, 2008

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    Fountain at the Piazza.

    Timaru is located high above Caroline Bay – but they have a very practical access to the beach from the city.

    From a little square named Piazza – on The Bay Hill - a rather monstruous and not very attractive airy staircase construction leads down over several levels. Those who do not want or cannot walk down can take the lift.

    At the bottom you step right into the Trevor Griffith’s Rose Garden, and from there you can make your way either towards Marine Parade or to the Benvenue Cliffs and Maori Park. And in the centre of everything is Caroline Bay.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Beaches

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    Theatre Royal - Concerts, Drama & You if you Want

    by Kakapo2 Written Aug 14, 2008

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    This is not only a beautiful heritage building but also Timaru’s major place for all kinds of drama and performing arts. It is also popular with touring shows and concerts.

    The auditorium can seat up to 1000 people. It is located in 118 Stafford Street which is Timaru’s main business and shopping street.

    The Theatre Royal was once said to be New Zealand’s most ornate building. It was reconverted into a theatre in 1877 by Maurice Duval. In 1992/93 it was upgraded. Barry Bracefield Consultancy designed the new foyer.

    If you want to present your art to the world you can also hire the venue. Contact the Timaru District Council in this case:

    2 King George Place, PO Box 522, Timaru 7940
    Phone (03) 687 7200
    Email: enquiry@timdc.govt.nz

    For events taking place in the Theatre Royal you get tickets at Merlins/Ticketek Timaru, phone (03) 688 4160. This is located inside the Movie Max 5 at the corner of Sophia and Canon Streets.

    Map here:
    http://www.moviemax5.co.nz/find_us.php?PHPSESSID=a1cd8086e88b95c16dadee0d96487808

    Merlins open Mon – Fri 11am – 5pm, Sat 11am – 1pm

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Architecture

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    South Canterbury Museum

    by balhannah Written Sep 12, 2008

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    His Flying Machine

    The octaganal museum is located in Perth Street, Timaru. It has a good display of Wildlife, Maori and European history, Maritime history, and Richard Pearse.
    Richard Pearse was a pioneer aviator, a genius! Only a few neighbours in 1903 & 1904 watched him take-off in his home built flying machine, only to land a short distance later in a gorse hedge. He built his 1st aircraft on his farm out of scrap metal, using hand made tools. To this very day, doubt is over whether this shy young farmer achieved powered flight, just before or after the Wright Brothers. He did his without any financial backing, The Wrights had backing. He died a recluse in 1953, said to be A GENIUS UNRECOGNISED. A replica of his flying machine is in the museum.
    Entry to the Museum is FREE.

    Related to:
    • Museum Visits

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    Stroll through the Botanic Gardens

    by Kakapo2 Updated Dec 25, 2009

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    The Education Centre inside the Botanic Gardens.

    I felt a bit like in Little Christchurch when walking through Timaru’s Botanic Gardens. Little Christchurch, because so many features reminded me of the Gardens of the big city, the nice lawns to stroll around, duck ponds, a beautiful rose garden, large mature trees, a herb and native garden. And still, Timaru’s Botanical Gardens are different, and unique, despite being much smaller than the Gardens in Christchurch.

    A very nice feature is the hilly area where it is located at the southern end of Timaru on SH 1. If you enter from the southern end at the corner of SH 1 (Craigie Ave), King Street and Domain Avenue, and walk just some steps through a formal garden with a simple reddish stone monument (dedicated to the former Governor W.F.D. Jervois), you get a fantastic view of the Southern Alps. This was the more spectacular on my last visit when the mountains were snow-capped and looked incredibly close. (Well, they are very close!)

    Just some steps away you find an aviary which features exotic birds rather than natives, budgies, canaries, and quite a lot of Aussie parrots, parakeets and cockatoos, including a sulphur-crested cockatoo who talked to me. (And I talked back, of course ;-)

    The Anderson Rose Garden (named after the former Curator of Reserves, Walter Anderson) has a geometrical design. It is circular, the rose beds also circular, and enclosed by low buxus hedges, and circular paths between the enclosed rose beds. So it looks a bit like a maize – just you do not get lost in it, and all circles are regular, some paths cutting through the circle lines, radiating from the centre to the outer buxus border. So you can walk around in circles and admire the roses, some of which were still blooming after the first winter storms.

    In the centre of the Rose Garden you find a fountain which looks like a small and less colourful copy of Christchurch’s Peacock Fountain (which there you find near the main entrance of the Gardens, beside Canterbury Museum).

    Walk out of the Rose Garden, you get into a tiny kind of secret garden, very lovely, and right next to that a statue of the Scottish poet Robert Burns who is even honoured here in South Canterbury. You find a bigger and more prominent Burns statue at the Octagon in Dunedin, the centre of Scottish heritage in New Zealand.

    Adjacent to the other side of the Rose Garden is the Graeme Paterson Conservatory and Fernery. Just some steps from there, along Queen Street, is Timaru’s Cenotaph War Memorial and a War Memorial Wall which lists all the fallen from the wars. Queen Street would lead straight to Timaru’s Hospital which sits at the north-east corner of the Botanic Gardens.

    I walked along a path past the beautiful Education Centre. It is a small hexagonal heritage building which looks rather romantic under the high trees.

    Then I just crossed the lawns to the native plants and trees, and down to the two Duck Ponds. Do not forget to take some bread if you want to feed them. You can cross the Lower Duck Pond on a small Japanese-inspired wooden bridge, reflected in the still waters of the pond, as well as a band rotunda.

    I especially liked the many signs on and under the trees, giving me the opportunity to finally identify a Mediterranean tree named Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo) which you find quite a lot in New Zealand. If you see their fruit you understand their name.

    Further featured areas in the Gardens are azaleas, rhododendrons, a species rose garden, the so-called Queen Victoria Sunken Garden, a bowling green, and a small children’s playground. You can walk on several named trails.

    Entry free.



    Limited opening hours of the conservatory and the Education Centre.

    Graeme Paterson Conservatory and Fernery:

    Open Monday – Friday, 10am - 4pm

    Saturday, Sunday and public holidays 2pm - 4pm

    Botanic Gardens Education Centre

    Open Wednesday and Sunday 2pm - 4pm

    The main entrance is on Queen Street. This is accessible by car.
    There is also an entrance on Domain Avenue, but there is no vehicular access. But there is plenty of parking space along the very wide Domain Avenue.
    However, you do not have to bother about entrances, as you can walk into the Gardens from just everywhere.

    Directions:

    If you come to Timaru from the south, just take a right turn towards the city centre (sign-posted), instead of keeping left on SH 1.

    If you come from the north, stay on SH 1. Near the end of the township you see the Gardens to your left.

    From the town centre of Timaru it is quite a long way to the Gardens, if you consider walking. From Bay Hill (Piazza) it easily takes you half an hour. The distance is about 2.5 kilometres.



    More information at the i-site in George Street (Landing Building), phone (03) 688 6163. Nice map and info text on the South Island website, see below.

    See travelogues for more photos of the Botanic Gardens.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Festivals

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    PHAR LAP

    by balhannah Updated Sep 12, 2008

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    'PHAR LAP' is an icon in Australia, the Horse that everybody loved, young or old, you love to hear the story of the unbeatable Phar Lap and his very sad ending to his incredible life's journey. Phar Lap was born on 4/10/1926 at the stud farm at Seadown, near Timaru. On the 24/1/1928, he was sold at the yearling sales in Wellington and this is how he came to Sydney, Australia. Phar Lap had 51 starts for 37 wins and 5 placings, 9 unplaced starts, this was when he was a 3year old. The only other unplaced start, was his last, in the 1931 Melbourne Cup, where he had to carry an enormous weight, (68KG) too much for the Champion. IT WAS THE HEAVIEST WEIGHT EVER CARRIED IN THE HISTORY OF THE RACE. Phar Lap only had one more race, and that was in America, where he beat a top field easily. Phar Lap passed away of a mystery illness on 5/4/1932. His Heart was extra large. The name Phar Lap is Thai for 'LIGHTNING" On the corner of the property that he was born, is a stone carving of the Mighty Phar Lap. The road is signposted, but its probably best to ask at the info centre for directions.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip

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    TREVOR GRIFFITH'S ROSE GARDEN

    by balhannah Written Jan 20, 2010

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    I love gardening, and I love my Roses, and here at Timaru, there is the beautiful Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden on Caroline Bay.
    Located by Timaru Piazza, this Rose garden has 1,200 roses set out in a well designed garden. The gardens are said to have a representative plant from every main rose family in the world!
    A big walkway of many steps leads down to this garden, which has pools and fountains, and Rose Arbours, they seem to grow so well here!
    Timaru has had a long history with the rose with its temperate climate, soil conditions and sheltered aspect making it the perfect environment for growing the Roses. The Timaru Botanic Gardens also house a large rose collection, and anywhere in Timaru, they seem to be found.
    You do not have to walk the steps, you can drive your car down to the bottom to where the rose garden is located.

    In November of each year, the Rose Festival is held.

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    TIMARU VISTOR CENTRE & CAPTAIN CAIN

    by balhannah Updated Jan 20, 2010

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    Cain infront of the Tourist centre.

    As usual, we found the Information centre before heading out and having a look at Timaru.
    The Tourist Information Centre is the restored stone Service Landing Building, which has a small maritime museum inside. The staff helped us out, sold us some souvenirs, and then we had a look at the beautifully done sculpture of Captain Henry Cain, an important figure in local history who settled in Timaru in 1857.

    There is quite a story to this man. He went to sea at the very young age of 13, became a wealthy trader with interests and property in California and Melbourne. In 1851, he arrived in New Zealand aboard the schooner Pauline, which he owned, and settled in Timaru in 1857, opening the first landing service in1859. He owned stores in Cain's Terrace, became the Town Mayor and harbour pilot.
    In 1886 he was murdered by poison and was buried in the Timaru Cemetery.
    Quite a life!

    Cain's son-in-law Thomas Hall was convicted of Cain’s murder by poisoning in 1887, and also of the attempted murder of his wife, Cain’s daughter Kate. At the time of his conviction the judge described Hall as being "The vilest criminal every tried in New Zealand".

    Related to:
    • Museum Visits

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    St. Mary’s – a Mt. Cook Lily and a great View

    by Kakapo2 Written Jul 28, 2008

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    Fine English Gothic Revival style.
    1 more image

    St. Mary’s Anglican Church (near the city centre in Church Street) is a perfect example of the English Gothic revival style. It was built of local basalt rock, dressed with white Oamaru stone and roofed with Welsh slate. The building process was extremely long. The foundation stone was laid in 1880 and the nave was finished six years later. But it took until 1909 that the chancel, chapel, vestries and tower were finished.

    On the inside you will notice the exquisite carving works at the pulpit, the organ case and the the superb reredos screen behind the altar which shows da Vinci's Last Supper.

    Have a close look at the pulpit. You will notice a Mt. Cook Lily. This was the trademark signature of the artist FG Gurnsey. We were lucky to meet a lady who just looked after the church (and wanted to close it...) when we showed up once, so she showed us all those nice details.

    The church is open daily from 9.30am to 3.30pm. If you want to climb up the stairs in the tower to enjoy great views of sea and mountains you have to apply for the key at the church office in the hall.

    Contact:
    24 Church Street
    Tel. (03) 688 8377
    Email: aitboard@xtra.co.nz

    Photo 2 shows the whole building.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel
    • Architecture

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    Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden, Timaru's Pride

    by Kakapo2 Updated Mar 1, 2010

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    A huge staircase leads down to the Rose Garden.
    1 more image

    This is Timaru’s biggest pride, located at the foot of the Timaru Piazza, just a stonethrow from the shores of Caroline Bay. From the Piazza on Bay Hill you have a great aerial view of the garden which has been architecturally designed by Sir Miles Warren, and has strictly geometrical shapes. It features nearly 1200 roses, arbors, a lych gate, gazebo, a central pergola, a pool, and a fountain. You find a representative plant from every main rose family in the world. The old Roses are planted in a sequence of colours: soft, mid and deep pink, burgundy, crimson, cream, white, peach, apricot, yellow, golden yellow.

    The name-sake Trevor Griffiths was a renowned South Canterbury rosarian and author whose collection of genuine old roses once was the third largest in the world. It comprised about 600 roses. Another 600 modern roses from English breeder David Austin were added to the garden which was opened on 10 December 2001.

    Trevor Griffiths, born in 1928, was already fascinated by roses as a young boy. From the age of eight years when his mother took him to a florist shop he spent more than 50 years creating his fantastic collection of old roses in his nursery near the neighbouring township of Temuka. He wrote several books about roses. The National Rose Society of New Zealand says without Trevor Griffiths many old roses would be extinct. David Austin honoured him by naming a dusky pink bloom after him.

    Free entry.

    Update 2 March 2010

    Trevor Griffiths died last week, aged 82. (In our paper they wrote he was 83 - but I wonder how this should be if he was born in 1928.)

    Photo 2 gives an unobstructed aerial view of the Rose Garden.

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Festivals

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