A destination for families, foodies and adventure seekers - with beautiful outdoor environments, a large collection of ancient Maori rock art sites, Korora or little penguins, wallabies, rich art, history and heritage, plenty of outdoor adventures, fabulous fare, and great Kiwi hospitality.
South Canterbury's geography is made up of sweeping plains, rolling hills, meandering rivers, native forest and unspoiled coastline. There are many picture-postcard views to be had here, and lots of ways you can get out and discover these gorgeous environments.
Peel Forest - a historic bush-clad retreat named after British Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel, who died in the same year the New Zealand province of Canterbury was founded.
Peel Forest offers excellent walking for all levels, with tracks through the bush leading to waterfalls and the 1311m summit of Little Mt Peel.
The gateway to the Rangitata Valley, Peel Forest is the base for many adventure activities in the area, including rafting, kayaking and horse trekking.
Bring a hearty appetite on your visit here – because taste bud temptations are everywhere. The quaint township of Geraldine has become a gourmet Mecca, home to delicious local cheeses, fruit preserves and irresistible handmade chocolates.
Get yourself along to the Geraldine Farmers’ market – held each Saturday in summertime and sample the area’s best produce, smoked goods, preserves and some fine coffee.
Geraldine is also home to many well-known artists with galleries and studios open for public viewing. For those seeking adventure, nearby Peel Forest offers it all, from rafting to canyoning, horse trekking and more.
Caroline Bay is a fabulous sandy beach and recreation reserve right in downtown Timaru City. There is a resident rookery of Korora, or little penguins, the beach is safe for swimming complete with a fun pontoon for diving off, and it was voted the most popular beach in the South Island.
The Trevor Griffiths Rose Gardens are a ‘Garden of Excellence’ designed by Sir Warren Miles, and located at the Bay. The garden is home to over 1,200 types of vintage rose, some saved from extinction by the passionate rose lover the gardens are named after.
South Canterbury is home to the most significant collection of ancient Maori rock art sites in the South Island. You can visit the Te Ana Maori Rock Art Centre for an interactive tour, they are the guardians of eight pieces of precious rock art. You can then join the local guides for a guided tour of the rock art sites close by.
Timaru hosts a Saturday morning Farmers’ Market year-round, with fresh seasonal produce, artisan bread, meats and much more, including lots of goodies to munch on while you shop.
Whatever you choose to eat and drink while you’re here you can be sure it’s served up with a passion for flavour, and a good dollop of Central South Island hospitality.
Peacefulness and country charm – that’s what people love about the Waimate district. Come and discover the serenity for yourself, along with history and heritage, some world class fishing and outdoor pursuits. It’s the gateway to the picturesque Waitaki River Valley, and one of the few places in New Zealand where wallabies run wild.
Come and wander the wide streets of the heritage town of Waimate, lined with buildings showcasing Edwardian architecture. Delve into one of the best small museums in New Zealand, and take a peek at New Zealand’s most unusual war memorial at Waihao Forks Hotel – Ted’s Bottle. For more than 60 years a bottle of beer belonging to Private Ted D’Auvergne has remained unopened behind the bar. Legend has it that the publican of the day was saving the beer for when Tom returned from war – but he never made it home. There’s even been a book and a play written about the captivating relic.
A host of short walking tracks offer lovely glimpses into Waimate’s parklands, countryside and native bush. Head up the hill to the distinctive White Horse Monument on Mount John. Built in 1965 to mark the work of the Clydesdale horse, the summit offers stunning panoramic views over South Canterbury. If you’re not so energetic, you can also access the top by road.
There are loads of other outdoor activities to get out and enjoy here. Cast a line, with some of the world’s best trout and salmon fishing, race down the river on a raft, or try some dry land exploration on horseback. Mountain bikers of all abilities are fast discovering the trails in these parts, with picturesque landscapes to check out along the way.
Bring an appetite – you’ll find several operators here on the South Canterbury Food and Wine Trail, including the revered Havoc Pork – winner of the prestigious Cuisine Magazine Artisan Producer Award in 2011. Stop in for a cellar door tasting at Point Bush Estate, Waimate’s first vineyard.
Waimate is also known as the berry capital of the South Island – so make sure you try some local berry lusciousness while you’re here. Each December, thousands celebrate the area’s berry fruit industry at the Waimate Strawberry Fare – a fantastic day of family entertainment with more than 250 stalls.
Waimate is the home of New Zealand’s largest wallaby, the redneck or brush wallaby. Thousands of the bouncy creatures roam the Hunter Hills beyond the Waimate township. Get up close and personal with the iconic local wild life by hand feeding or cuddling them at one of the area’s animal parks.
When you’re planning your South Island adventure, take note that the shortest distance from Christchurch to Queenstown is through Waimate. There’s plenty to stop for in this tranquil rural district, and take the journey in autumn for spectacular orange and yellow hues along the Waitaki Valley