10 Amazing Things to Do in Timaru
10 Amazing Things to Do in Timaru

13 Best Things to Do in Timaru

© NZPocketGuide.com

What to Do in Timaru: The Hub of South Canterbury

Located right in between Dunedin and Christchurch, Timaru is a great place to stay the night on your South Island road trip. The large town has plenty to discover both in the town and on the beach with an amazing museum and art gallery, as well as pleasant beach walks and picturesque parks. When night falls, talk a walk to Marine Parade to watch the little blue penguins returning to their burrows. Find out more in this list of things to do in Timaru.

While you’re here, you might also like the 10 Underrated Places to Visit in Canterbury.

1. Visit the South Canterbury Museum

A must-visit in the city of Timaru, the South Canterbury Museum exhibits a wide range of interesting memorabilia from fashion to fossils. Discover local stories and learn about the South Canterbury region’s nature, history and culture. Watch a local historic film at the Heritage Theatre, take a look through the archives at the research area, and wander around the ever-changing array of exhibitions.

Location: Perth Street

Karora on Wikipedia© Karora on Wikipedia

2. Watch the Little Blue Penguins

When the sun goes down, the little blue penguins return to their burrows at Caroline Bay. Timaru offers one of the best free viewings of little blue penguins in New Zealand, with street lights making it easy to see the penguins. Watch the penguins from Marine Parade, but make sure to stay behind the fenced-off area and don’t use flash photography or shine lights at the penguins. Find out more about watching penguins in New Zealand in the 5 Tips for Watching New Zealand Penguins.

Location: Marine Parade

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

3. Check Out the Aigantighe Art Gallery

See international and local collections of artwork at the fantastic Aigantighe Art Gallery. Aigantigne is Gaelic for “at home” and pronounced “egg-and-tie”. It’s the third-largest art gallery in New Zealand and holds an impressive collection of New Zealand, Pacific, Asian and European art. There are ever-changing exhibitions, which historically have included living sculptures, historic painting replica dress-ups and Art Car. Also, check out the Sculpture Garden for open-air works.

Location: 49 Wai-titi Road

South Canterburynz on Flickr© South Canterburynz on Flickr

4. Get the New Zealand Boutique Shopping Experience at Black & Co

Timaru is home to an eclectic range of boutiques that’s well worth putting some time aside for in your itinerary. For instance, dive into the diverse blend of New Zealand and international clothing (for both women and men) at Black & Co! As well as local fashion, the locally-owned store boasts some unique and quirky homeware, as well as handmade jewellery made from precious stones and metals by New Zealand designers.

Location: 92 Stafford Street

13 Amazing Things to Do in Timaru© Black & Co

5. Pick Up Quirky Kiwi Gifts from Tuesday

While we’re on the subject, next door to Black & Co is the quirky little gift store of Tuesday. Pick up some unique New Zealand souvenirs to bring home to friends and family, no matter their age or interests. New Zealand-themed games and puzzles, eco-friendly gifts and downright outrageous fun pretty much sums up the shelves of this funky little store.

Location: 88 Stafford Street

13 Amazing Things to Do in Timaru© Tuesday

6. Catch the Timaru Farmers Market

Saturday mornings in Timaru are best spent at the Timaru Farmers Market. Pick up fresh and local produce, mingle with the locals and experience a real Kiwi market. It’s a great place to pick up gifts for friends at home or simply treat yourself with preserves, cheeses, baking and organic goodies. There’s also hot food and drinks for sale.

Location: 27 Strathallan Street (Community House car park)

© Nancy Zhou - ChristchurchNZ

7. Wander Around the Timaru Botanic Gardens

Timaru has a number of picturesque gardens and green spaces including the fabulous Timaru Botanic Gardens. The gardens feature an aviary, ornamental ponds, conservatory and fernery, a children’s playground and many different collections of flowers and plants.

Location: Queen Street

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

8. Explore Caroline Bay

Caroline Bay is Timaru’s sandy beach and park area. Enjoy a lookout along a staircase, photo-worthy water features and more in this attractive part of town. It’s home to the Trevor Griffins Rose Garden, which a beautiful sight in spring and summer with its geometric rose beds. There’s also a lovely walkway over boardwalks along the bay taking around 45 minutes to complete.

Location: Caroline Bay

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

9. Tour the DB Draught Brewery

One of New Zealand’s largest beer brands has a brewery right here in Timaru. Learn the brewing process, past and present, in this insightful brewery tour at the DB Draught Brewery. The brewery is famous for making DB Draught, DB Export Gold and DB Export 33. At the end of the tour, you’ll sample the good stuff yourself and get the chance to browse the gift shop. See more activities like this in the 5 Damn Good Brewery Tours in New Zealand.

Location: Sheffield Street

Pxhere © Pxhere

10. Have a Drink at Timaru’s Most Unique Bar

Speaking of beer, if you’re looking for a special place for a cold one, check out Hector’s Black. Choose from a creative range of cocktails or perhaps a New Zealand craft beer or regional wine and sip it in the relaxed homely atmosphere of this vibrant bar. With cosy mismatched vintage couches, retro suitcase tables and all sorts of crazy antiques on display, there are plenty of conversation pieces!

Location: 129 Stafford Street

13 Amazing Things to Do in Timaru© Hectors

11. Walk the South Beach Coastal Track

Enjoy excellent views of Caroline Bay, the Port and the town along the South Beach Coastal Track. This 20-minute walk is on a well-formed trail along a shingle beach following the coastline north toward the Timaru Harbour. It’s a pleasant walk to watch surfers on the waves and look out for wildlife like penguins, seals, dotterels, oystercatchers and terns.

Location: Patiti Point car park

Bernard Spragg. NZ on Flickr© Bernard Spragg. NZ on Flickr

12. Visit the Te Ana Maori Rock Art Site

For a real off-the-beaten-track experience and a unique insight into the Maori history, join a personal guided tour with Te Ana Maori Rock Art. The centre is located just outside of Timaru (it is self-drive so you will need to follow your guide in your own vehicle) where you’ll get the chance to see ancient Maori art painted in caves.

Location: 2 George Street

Alexander Turnbull Library on Wikipedia © Alexander Turnbull Library on Wikipedia

13. Visit the Nearby Country Towns

Timaru is surrounded by two quaint Kiwi towns well worth visiting, Pleasant Point and Temuka. Pleasant Point is home to some fantastic eateries and some of the oldest remaining steam trains in the country at the Pleasant Point Museum and Railway. Temuka is a picturesque town with historical buildings, the Temuka Salesyard which is buzzing once a week, and the largest garden and park in the district at the Temuka Domain. Find out more in 5 Fun Things to Do at Pleasant Point and 6 Fun Things to Do in Temuka.

Location: Pleasant Point – 20km (12 miles) north of Timaru, Temuka – 19km (12 miles) north of Timaru

Brennan.hawkins on Wikipedia© Brennan.hawkins on Wikipedia

More Things to Do Near Timaru

That’s it for the best things to do in Timaru. Find more activities for your travels in the 51 Best Things to Do in the South Island.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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