Self drive Māori Rock Art sites
The Timaru District has the highest number of studied Māori rock art sites in New Zealand. This is due to our many river ways that early Māori used as their roads while travelling throughout the South Island looking for food as well as materials for medicine, clothing and weapons.
The Timaru District is also largely made up of Limestone rock which erodes easily creating caves and overhangs which provided shelter for these travelers. While in these shelters, drawings were created to tell stories and provide warnings to other travelers coming through the area.
There are four sites within the region that you are able to explore unguided:
1. Te Manunui - The Great Bird
The closest site to Timaru city is the Te Manunui site at Maungati. It's short 25 minute drive through the stunning Taiko Valley and across the Pareora River. The site is located an easy two minute walk from the road side and features a story board detailing the rock art within this cave. The cave features multiple drawings of birds, people and other figures.
The site is well sign posted from the road. It is located on private farm land, so please be respectful of the surroundings and do not venture from the marked path.
NOTE: There is a slight downhill walk to the site on grass which may be slippery when wet. Sturdy shoes are a must.
Address: 215 Frenchmans Gully Road, Maungati- https://goo.gl/maps/PeGJYzcwmL4m7ca37
From Timaru, head south on SH1 turning right onto Beaconsfield Road. Stay on Beaconsfield Road for approximately 13kms, turn left onto Holme Station Road and then take the first right onto Pareora River Road. Carry on along Pareora River Road for approximately 3.3kms and turn left onto Craigmore Valley Road. Stay on Craigmore Valley Road for 2.5kms before turning left onto Frenchmans Gully Road. The site is located approximately 1.3kms along the road with a small carpark at the road side.
2. Valley of the Moa
Located in Maungati, a 30 minute drive from Timaru, this site is located on a private farm approximately a 5-7 minute walk from the carpark. It is a gradual rise along a farm track with two sites located up on the hill side. There is a small track up the hill just past the rock art sign and small sets of stairs to each cave.
The hill side and steeps are relatively steep and sturdy footwear is a must!
Please note, this is a working farm and there is livestock in the area. The site is closed to the public in August and September each year for lambing and calving. Please also be respectful of surroundings and do not venture off the marked path.
Address: 92 Moa Road, Maungati - https://goo.gl/maps/nM8K2hS47W7E1Zwv6
From Timaru, head south on SH1 turning right onto Beaconsfield Road. Stay on Beaconsfield Road for approximately 13kms, turn left onto Holme Station Road and then take the first right onto Pareora River Road. Carry on along Pareora River Road which will turn into Pareora Gorge Road. You will travel up and over the windy Pareora River Gorge, once you exit this section of road, turn left onto Limestone Road. Stay on Limestone Road for approximately 3.5kms and turn left onto Moa Road. The carpark for the site is located right at the end of Moa Road. Park on the side of the road, and climb over the turnstile and onto the track.
3. Middle Valley Road
Located between Pleasant Point and Geraldine, this site is a 35 minute drive from Timaru, or a 30 minute drive from Geraldine. Easy to find on the side of the road, you will pass through a small gate before climbing a series of steps to two sites. Drawings can be easily seen in both caves.
NOTE: The first section of steps is quite steep and sturdy footwear is required.
Address: 1580 Middle Valley Road, Middle Valley, New Zealand - https://goo.gl/maps/QJns3BWuFe2ZWDGR8
From the Timaru CBD, head north on SH1 turning at Washdyke towards Pleasant Point on SH8. Turn right onto Tengawai Road at the Pleasant Point pub. Stay on Tengawai Road for 2.5 kilometres, go over the bridge and take the first left onto Totara Valley Road. Follow Totara Valley Road for approximately 8 kilometres (where it turns into Raincliff Road) and then becomes Middle Valley Road as you pass the Raincliff Youth Camp. The site is located on the right hand side approximately 1.5kms from here. The site is well signposted.
Head west of SH8 towards Fairlie for approximately 28kms Turn left onto Gudex Road and continue for 8kms. Take a slight left onto Middle Valley Road and the site will 900m from here on the left hand side.
4. Three Mile Bush Road
Located on the road side 30 mins from Timaru and Geraldine. You can park right at the entrance of the cave and step over the grass verge to the caged area. There are multiple drawings within the single overhang, mostly in red pigment.
Address: Three Mile Bush Road - https://goo.gl/maps/VmWjcnHfXhoVH6P89
From the Timaru CBD, head north on SH1 turning at Washdyke towards Pleasant Point on SH8. Turn right onto Tengawai Road at the Pleasant Point pub. Stay on Tengawai Road for 2.5 kilometres, go over the bridge and take the first left onto Totara Valley Road. Follow Totara Valley Road for approximately 8 kilometres where it turns into Raincliff Road. Stay on Raincliff Road for approximately 5 kilometres and turn right onto Monument Road. Stay on Monument Road for 4 kilometres and turn left onto Three Mile Bush Road.
The site is located approximately 1 kilometre along the road on the right hand side (next to the gravel road sign).
Head west of SH8 towards Fairlie for approximately 28 kilometres. Turn left onto Gudex Road and continue for 8kms. Take a slight left onto Middle Valley Road and carry on to Raincliff Road past the Youth Camp. Turn right onto Hazelburn Road and continue straight ahead onto Three Mile Bush Road.
The site is located approximately 1km along the road on the right hand side (next to the gravel road sign).
Te Ana Māori Rock Art Experiences
To help you understand the meanings behind these drawings, we strongly suggest you visit the Te Ana Māori Rock Art Centre in Timaru for an interactive experience on the history of Māori Rock Art drawings.
Te Ana also offer a guided experience with local Ngai Tahu decedents of another rock art site that is not able to be accessed by the general public and offers an even more indepth learning of the history of early Māori settlers and the specific drawings in the caves on that site.
Find out more about Te Ana Māori Rock Art Experiences here