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Activities and Things to do in Timaru

About Timaru

This busy coastal South Island port and holiday resort is a gateway to the mountains, lakes and rivers of the central South Island. The town is known for its elegant Victorian and Edwardian buildings, made of volcanic bluestone. Timaru's focal point is beautiful Caroline Bay. This well-equipped and safe swimming beach is bordered by a 20ha reserve which has children's playgrounds, gardens, tennis courts, an aviary, a skating rink and plenty of car parking. There is now also a new Aquatic Centre adjacent to the tennis court facilities.

Every Christmas/New Year the beach hosts Timaru's popular summer carnival – three weeks of fun and frivolity. The region's history can be explored at the South Canterbury Museum, or wander through the Aigantighe Gallery or Timaru's lovely Botanic Garden. Activities in the Timaru district include horse riding, mountain biking, golf and fishing. In winter there are several ski fields within reach – try heli-skiing or glacier skiing for something a bit different. The Washdyke Industrial Park, Washdyke Racecourse and Levels Raceway are situated some 15km away on the north side of Timaru.

Attractions Include:

GardensStroll through the Timaru Botanic Gardens, a 210ha reserve bordering Caroline Bay with gardens, duck ponds and an aviary. The garden is noted for its work with rare and endangered species and its rose collections. Timaru district also has beautiful private gardens open for tours during summer.
Landing Service Building
Landing Service BuildingThe last remaining building of its type in the southern hemisphere, it was built in 1870 from solidified lava (bluestone) and contains relics of Timaru's maritime heritage.
Aigantighe Art Gallery
Aigantighe Art GalleryTimaru's art gallery contains more than 900 works, including a garden of sculptures.
Caroline Bay Trust Aoraki Centre
New Aquatic Centre and Sports StadiumRecently built and situated close to Caroline Bay, the Caroline Bay Trust Aoraki Centre is a $23.5 million aquatic and fitness facility run by the council.
South Canterbury Museum
South Canterbury MuseumThis excellent museum explores the area's whaling history, with some good examples of scrimshaw (whale bone etchings). There are also local Maori artefacts and a replica of the first aeroplane designed and flown by local farmer and inventor, Richard Pearse. Pearse was believed to have flown his craft a year before the Wright brothers made their historic flight at Kittyhawk in 1904.
Ski Areas
Ski AreasThe town is a convenient base for winter skiers, and there are several ski areas within two hours' drive including Mt Dobson, Fox Peak, Mt Hutt, Ohau and Tekapo.
Maori Rock Art Centre
Maori Rock Art CentreDiscover the stories of Maori rock art at the tribal Rock Art Centre. See the most significant collection of ancient Maori rock art in New Zealand. Share tribal stories and traditions with the local Maori guides.