Timaru Travel Guide

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Nestled between Christchurch and Dunedin on New Zealand’s South Island, Timaru is a gorgeous beachside destination with plenty of charming attractions dotted around Caroline Bay.

Timaru, South Island

Explore one of the many scenic walks by the water, relax at the sheltered swimming beach and discover fascinating art and history at one of the local galleries and museums. You’ll also find thriving restaurants, bars and cafes to relax in at the end of the day. 

Things to do

A picturesque coastal town, Timaru offers plenty of memorable holiday-making options. Head to beautiful Caroline Bay and enjoy the tranquil foreshore and much-loved swimming beach between the breakwater and the parkland. Watch little penguins return to their burrows at the end of the day. A popular summer carnival is also celebrated here every Boxing Day.


Take a tour through the region’s fascinating past at the South Canterbury Museum on Perth Street. This impressive museum has extensive collections of Māori artefacts, natural history specimens and early colonial relics. You’ll also find illustrations drawn from Captain Cook’s third Pacific voyage.


For vivid Māori history, take a tour of the fascinating Māori Rock Art Centre, Te Ana. You’ll find incredible examples of ancient rock drawings. The major concentration of Māori rock art is found in the limestone-rich region of South Canterbury, and Te Ana strives to preserve and revitalise this treasured art form.


Discover local and international art exhibitions at the Aigantighe Art Gallery, where entry is free. Enjoy a stroll through the peaceful Sculpture Garden, featuring over 25 outdoor sculptures by renowned artists, and relax with a picnic beneath the spreading trees. In Queen Street, you’ll also find the Timaru Botanic Gardens, a gorgeous 19 hectare reserve of native plant collections, ornamental ponds and walking trails. 

Food and Wine

Timaru enjoys a great reputation for fresh produce and local delicacies. Start your foodie experience with a visit to the Timaru Artisan Farmers Markets, held every Saturday on Strathallan Street. You’ll find handmade cheeses, preserves and gourmet creations to tantalise the taste buds, with live music creating a vibrant atmosphere. You’re also bound to find a gift or two among the quality artisan crafts.


For those that enjoy a tipple, Timaru is home to some acclaimed breweries and vineyards. Check out Hector’s Black, an ambient lounge bar that pours locally brewed craft beer and cocktails. The DB Draught Brewery is a local icon that produces some of New Zealand’s most popular brews. Take a tour, explore the Museum of Beer and sample some of the brewery’s finest.


Quarry Rock Wines is a boutique winery on the outskirts of Timaru. Making the most of the region’s unique climate, this vineyard produces exceptional pinot noir, pinot gris and riesling. Just over 30 minutes’ south in Waitmate, Point Bush Estates is a boutique vineyard known for its pinot noir and sauvignon blanc. 

How do I get to Timaru from Christchurch and Dunedin?

Getting to Timaru from Christchurch and Dunedin is easy. Only 2 hours’ drive from Christchurch and 2 hrs 20 mins from Dunedin, and only 3 hrs 50 mins from Queenstown. There are also direct flights from Wellington, and from Auckland via Wellington, as well as coach services to and from Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown and Te Anau.

Top things to do in Timaru

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