Timaru is South Canterbury’s largest city and port.
With its predominantly mild climate Timaru is well known for growing a variety of produce from apples, berry fruits, asparagus and pumpkins to producing a huge range of calla lilies and peony roses.
Timaru is conveniently situated in the centre of the South Island’s east coast. It is a 2-3 hour drive from both Dunedin and Christchurch and the city itself is situated on rolling hills, signifying the end of the Canterbury Plains. Sitting on the doorstep of many inland lakes and central ski fields Timaru has something to interest the whole family.
Timaru, formally known as Te Maru or ‘place of shelter’, was declared a city in 1948. It was one of the few places along the east coast of New Zealand where Maori, who traveled by canoe, could seek refuge from the Pacific Ocean to rest. The building of the artificial harbour began in 1877 and today Timaru is the main port for South Canterbury.
Timaru offers visitors numerous shops, accommodation, parks and entertainment activities. Caroline Bay is a popular holiday destination, which hosts Timaru’s annual Christmas/New Year Carnival. With its safe swimming beach, large children’s playground, aviary, sound shell and mini golf, Caroline Bay is the perfect place to entertain the whole family.
The Aigantighe (pronounced ‘egg and tie’) Art Gallery is the third largest art museum in the South Island. On display is New Zealand, Pacific, Asian and European art works dating from the sixteenth century to present day. Visiting Tane the Tuatara or wandering through the sculpture garden are also highlights at the museum (admission is free).
Timaru has two public swimming pools in the city and the Botanic Gardens provide an internal drive for both public vehicles and tourist buses. As well as 40 different types of plants the Botanic Gardens house a conservatory, threatened plant collection, ponds and an education centre providing plant information to the public.
Timaru’s airport is named after New Zealand farmer Richard Pearse who became the first official aviator (before the Wright Brothers) in March 1903. A replica of an aircraft built by Richard Pearse is on display in The South Canterbury Museum along with local history studies and a porcelain doll collection dating back to the early 20th Century.
As well as producing a wide variety of produce and flowers, Timaru is also well known for its Salmon and Trout fishing.