Top 10 things to do in Timaru

Pleasant Point Railway

Aigantighe Art Gallery

Timaru Artisan Farmers' Market

Te Ana Ngāi Tahu Māori Rock Art

Top 10 things to do in Timaru

This South Canterbury town has a lot going on, from culture, history and art to some excellent shopping and a great bar scene. Nature is on full show here, with resident penguins and some truly spectacular scenic walks. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the nearby towns too – you’re sure to find something quirky and cool on your detour.

Brush up on your history at South Canterbury Museum

A top stop on your list for its wide variety of exhibitions covering the history and culture of South Canterbury, from Māori and natural history to Edwardian fashion, and the stories of locals who served in the Great War. Watch a historic short film at the Heritage Theatre and check out the replica of Richard Pearse’s first aircraft design. 

See little blue penguins at Caroline Bay

One of the best places in the world to see these little cuties for free is Timaru’s Caroline Bay. The beach is great for swimming in the summer and doubles as the ideal penguin watching spot in the evening, complete with conveniently-placed streetlights to help see the little guys better as they surf in from the sea and return to their nests for the night. Be sure to keep a polite distance from the penguins and don’t scare them with torches or flash photography.

Absorb some art at Aigantighe Art Gallery

This stellar collection of art has elevated straight from local legend status direct to national legend, and it’s a definite must-see on any visit to Timaru. Pronounced “egg-and-tie”, this gallery is the third largest in New Zealand and houses an impressive collection of national and international art including Pasifika, Asian, and European. Be sure to take a wander around the outdoor Sculpture Garden before you leave.

Shop up a storm at locally-owned boutiques

Timaru is a dark horse when it comes to great shopping – this little town is a hidden gem of locally owned boutiques and New Zealand designers just waiting to be discovered. Check out Black & Co for a diverse range of fashion for both men and women, find iconic labels such as Stussy, Veronika Maine and Stella + Gemma at Miss Timaru, and visit the only Ballantynes department store outside of Christchurch.

Go blueberry picking

Wholesome, satisfying and delicious! Pick a bounty of berries at Blueberry Haven. Bring the kids along for a fun activity with plenty of eat-while-you-go to keep them entertained – or you can purchase the spray-free, organic berries already picked from the orchard shop.

Get some local produce at the Timaru Farmers’ Market

It’s hard to beat the experience of a small-town weekend market, and Timaru’s Saturday morning market is right up there with the best of them. Head along to get fresh seasonal produce, artisan goods, cheeses, gifts, and hot food and drinks from the resident food carts.

Take a load off at Hector’s Black Bar

This quirky watering hole is worth a look-in for the décor alone. Check out the fascinating antiques, bizarre taxidermy, and board game selection before setting your sights on the impressive cocktail list. You may be here a while.

Walk the South Beach Coastal Track

A beautiful, easy 20-minute walk along a shingle path, this scenic track offers standout views of the port, Timaru town and Caroline Bay, as well as surfers and wildlife. You can extend the walk by continuing north along towards the harbour, where there’s plenty of ship, fishing boat and yacht activity to be seen.

Te Ana Ngāi Tahu Māori Rock Art

See a fascinating piece of Māori history at this site just outside of Timaru on a guided tour with Te Ana Ngāi Tahu Māori Rock Art. You’ll get to see ancient art on the cave walls and learn about the methods used to paint such long-lasting colour onto the rock, and the importance of preserving this precious heritage.

Vintage trains at Pleasant Point Museum and Railway

You’ll find some of the oldest trains in the country right here, just 20km from Timaru. Voted one of New Zealand’s best preservation railways, it features such attractions as two steam engines, two diesels and one of the world’s only Model T Ford railcars.


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