Family fun in Timaru

Timaru is the second largest city in Canterbury, it's pretty much right in the centre of the East Coast, about halfway between Dunedin and Christchurch.

It's the perfect place to meet your friends and whānau from across the South Island, plus we have direct daily flights from Wellington for our North Island mates.

So, if the thought of so much time off school in April has you scratching your head, meet in the middle in Timaru city.  Read on for a bit of what you can expect.


Our playground right in the heart of Timaru city.

Caroline Bay, is a beautiful beach reserve, it's fantastic for swimming, and there's a cool pontoon to swim out to and leap off.

There's plenty of parkland dedicated to biking and walking tracks, disc golf, a skate park, a bike skills park and a playground.

Family on Caroline Bay boardwalk

From October to March it's home to a colony of kororā/little penguins.  At this time of year though you're more likely to see dolphins just off shore.  Go dolphin spotting on one of our coastal tracks, or launch your boat or jet ski into Caroline Bay.


You can easily spend a day here, trying out all the tracks.

Kids biking at Centennial Park

Centennial Park is Timaru’s main green reserve, with loads of walking and biking tracks for all ages and abilities.

Set in a valley with native bush, the reserve has a small lake and a stream running through its centre.

Bikes on bridge at The Scenic

It's a great place to picnic, there are two public BBQ's by the lake and a play area.

There's also a fantastic BMX skills park where you can catch some air.


The Bay Hill is home to a row of fabulous eateries.

Family dining on the Bay Hill

You can dine al fresco with stunning views out over Caroline Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

It's the perfect area for wining and dining, sunset drinks, morning coffees and a spot of people watching.

Kids looking over Bay Hill from the Piazza


Our other main dining hub in the city surrounds this awesome historic building.

Landing Services Building

The historic Landing Services Building is home to the Street Food KitchenThe Speights Alehouse (fantastic courtyard), the Timaru Information Centre and Te Ana Māori Rock Art Centre.

In the general area you'll find fantastic eateries that cover most cuisine styles from vegan to steak-house, take-away to fine dining.

Landing Services area courtyard

The area comes to life on a Saturday morning with the Timaru Artisan Farmers Market.


A favourite walk with locals, given its coastal views and proximity to the Bay Hill eateries and the CBD, is the Dashing Rocks walk.

Blackett's Lighthouse

You set off from Caroline Bay, our beautiful beach reserve right in Timaru City.

The walk takes approximately an hour and will lead you around cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, past the site of historic shipwrecks, Blackett's Lighthouse, and fascinating basalt rock formations - aka 2 million year old lava from Mt Horrible.

Dashing rocks view


Download the free Timaru Trails app while you're here and get exploring

Explore Caroline Bay, our scenic coastal walking tracks (including Dashing Rocks), our street art, cemetery, artisan food, heritage buildings and so much more with the Timaru Trails app.

You can download the app to your phone from the App Store or Google Play.

You can also view the web version of the app from your PC or laptop.

While you're here

Find free fun

Some of the best things to do in Timaru District are completely free.

Cold day activities

There's plenty to do if the temperatures drop.  The South Canterbury Museum and Aigantighe Art Gallery have cool holiday programmes, plus there's the Te Ana Māori Rock Art Centre,  MovieMax, Chipmunks and other places to keep dry and burn off energy.