The 28,000-strong port city of TIMARU, 18km south of Temuka, is at the end of a straight and flat two-hour drive from Christchurch. The city isn’t a vastly compelling place to stop, though it’s enlivened by the new Te Ana Maori Rock Art Centre, the Aigantighe Art Gallery and the South Canterbury Museum. On a fine day, it’s worth spending a quiet hour ambling around the Botanical Gardens, entered via Queen Street (daily 8am–dusk; free), or strolling along the new boardwalk along Caroline Bay and the low cliffs north past the wooden 1878 Blackett’s Lighthouse to Dashing Rocks.

Brief history

The name Timaru comes from Te Maru, Maori for “place of shelter”, as it provided the only haven for waka paddling between Banks Peninsula and Oamaru. In 1837 European settlement was initiated by Joseph Price, who set up a whaling station south of the present city at Patiti Point. A large part of today’s commercial and pastoral development was initiated by Yorkshiremen George and Robert Rhodes, who established the first cattle station on the South Island in 1839 and effectively founded Timaru. Land reclamation created a harbour in 1877 and helped form the fine sandy beach of Caroline Bay. For a time, Timaru became a popular seaside resort, and its annual two-week summer carnival, starting on Boxing Day, is still a highlight.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

New Zealand features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Solo travel can be one of the most rewarding ways to explore the world. Whether you'd rather spend it on a desert island or in a frenetic new city, here are th…

21 Dec 2016 • Rachel Mills camera_alt Gallery
How to find the right New Zealand for you

How to find the right New Zealand for you

While it may not loom large on the world map, New Zealand feels incredibly vast and imposing on the ground, especially to those who try to visit the North and S…

23 May 2016 • Eric Grossman insert_drive_file Article
Everything you need to know about backpacking New Zealand

Everything you need to know about backpacking New Zealand

New Zealand’s craggy coastline and beautiful national parks are dotted with wildlife and beg to be explored. The scenery gets more spectacular around every co…

07 Mar 2016 • Rachel Mills insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month