The port city of Timaru is a handy stopping-off point halfway between Christchurch and Dunedin. Many travellers prefer to kick on 85km further south to the smaller, more charming Oamaru, but a few good restaurants and good-value motels means Timaru is worthy of a spot of travellers’ R&R. The recently opened Te Ana Maori Rock Art Centre is also of interest for travellers seeking to understand NZ's indigenous Maori heritage.
The town’s name comes from the Maori name Te Maru, meaning the ‘Place of Shelter’. No permanent settlement existed here until 1839, when the Weller brothers from Sydney set up a whaling station. The Caroline, a sailing ship that picked up whale oil, gave the picturesque bay its name.