The picturesque town of Geraldine offers plenty of activities – both energetic and leisurely for holiday makers and travellers. It is also the perfect place to stay while enjoying all that the Timaru District has to offer. Check out the best bits of the District to make your visit to Geraldine even more memorable.
Timaru: With a rich history as a Māori settlement, whaler’s base and then point of arrival for colonial settlers, Timaru, a city of around 35,000 residents lies within a 35 minute drive south of Geraldine. It is the largest centre in the Timaru District and wraps around the coastline offering sweeping views of both soaring mountains and rolling seas. There is plenty to do in this bustling little city.
The Te Ana Māori Rock Art Centre in central Timaru and the rock art sites around the area are the single best place in New Zealand to experience Māori rock art. Walk in the footsteps of the ancestors and find out about the people who created the art, the world they lived in and the stories of their times. Operated by the Ngāi Tahu Māori Trust, the Centre is a non-profit entity striving to protect and share the precious history of Māori rock art in New Zealand.
Caroline Bay, one of New Zealand’s most popular beaches, is a great place for the whole family, featuring safe swimming, wide boardwalks, BBQ’s, children’s playground, skate park, mini golf, aviary, art and sculpture trail and much more. Surf and sailing lessons are also available.
A little known fact is that Caroline Bay is home to an increasing colony of Blue Penguins. At just 40 cm tall these penguins are the smallest species of penguin in the world and have found homes in the rocks at either end of the beach. Viewing is FREE and very accessible. The best time to visit is just on dusk each evening.
The internationally acclaimed Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden set around arbours and water features is located in the Bay gardens and boasts nearly 1200 roses. It really is a ‘must see’ when in bloom.
The Botanic Gardens, 19 hectares of a photographer’s delight, were laid out in 1864 and are now recognised as a ‘Garden of National Significance’ by the NZ Gardens Trust. The gardens are a great place for families to picnic or try out the Wuhoo Scavenger Hunt which is sure to keep the kids occupied.
The Aigantighe (pronounced ‘egg-and-tie’) Art Gallery on Wai-iti Road is a must-do for fine art lovers. Some of New Zealand’s most significant artworks are displayed in this spectacular gallery – paintings by the likes of Frances Hodgkins and Colin McCahon.
The sculpture gardens, in the grounds of the gallery, are one of the most photographed locations in Timaru and also home to hundreds of monarch butterflies which create a magically colourful experience for visitors.
With changing displays the South Canterbury Museum is a great place to visit to find out about settlement in the area, the famous aviation inventor Richard Pearse and much more.
Temuka: Home town of Richard Pearse, the man that raced the Wright brothers to achieve the first powered flight, Temuka (a 15 minute drive from Geraldine) is also home to kiwi favourite Temuka Pottery and a great place to do a spot of salmon fishing.
There is also an excellent domain and golf course. The monument erected to Richard Pearse can be viewed on the main Waitohi Road between Temuka and Pleasant Point.
Pleasant Point: The road to Pleasant Point (30 minutes from Geraldine) winds through a patchwork of lush South Canterbury farming country. The town itself has a rich history for glassblowing, taxidermy and custard squares. It is also the closest town to the Māori Rock art sites and a meeting point for tours.
A highlight of any visit here must be the Pleasant Point Railway which operates a number of steam engines along its track from the station in the centre of town. It is also home to the worlds only surviving Model T Ford Railcar. Rail enthusiasts will be in heaven.
Kakahu and Raincliff: These small rural settlements are found off the Geraldine Fairlie Highway and the whole area makes for a lovely drive off the beaten track, affording some sweeping panoramic views of the plains down to the sea at Timaru.
Make Geraldine and the Timaru District your next holiday destination!