Top things to do in Timaru and South Canterbury
Visit Timaru and start exploring some of the South Island's most iconic (and less crowded) scenery and experiences, all within an easy drive from the airport.
South Canterbury is home to seaside city Timaru and lots of pretty towns, all full of history, walking tracks and great food.
Beach days and penguins
Caroline Bay, is a beautiful beach reserve right in little seaside city Timaru. The beach is safe to swim, sail and splash in, and is home to a resident rookery of little penguin/kororā. Watch them come ashore on dusk for free. There's also a pod of Hector's dolphins that you might spot on a coastal walk, they love making themselves known to people boating and boarding around the bay.
When you're beached out, just walk cross over the road to wine, dine and shop.
Māori Rock Art
Timaru is home to the most significant collection of Māori Rock Art in New Zealand. Learn about it at Te Ana Māori Rock Art Centre in Timaru. Te Ana are the kaitiaki (guardians) of eight tribal taonga (treasures), cut from their sites over a hundred years ago, and now returned home to the centre and their people.
Or, you can do a guided tour of the ancient art galleries of Aotearoa, just outside of Timaru with local Ngāi Tahu guides.
The gin is rested, the cheeses are ripe and the craft beers are bottled and chilling. The curries are fresh and full of local goodness. The hot sauces are ridiculously, but not pointlessly hot. Plus we have more pickles, syrups, chutneys and other condiments than just about anywhere else in NZ.
Geraldine is a scenic village with great walking tracks, fabulous boutique stores, galleries and loads of artisan food products to try.
Further south, Waimate is a cute little Edwardian town where you can hand feed orphan wallabies. There are fabulous walking and biking tracks, cool second-hand stores, and fantastic painted silos.
Explore the Legendary Mackenzie
As you head west you enter the Mackenzie Region – home to NZ's highest mountains, longest glaciers, vivid turquoise lakes, golden grasslands and clearest starry skies. Take a scenic flight into the mountains and land on glaciers; enjoy the night sky within the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve; explore the amazingly beautiful landscape by cycling, walking, kayaking, swimming, skiing and more. Come discover the Legendary Mackenzie!