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Trucking on along the SH1 through Timaru, travellers could be forgiven for thinking that this small port city is merely a handy place for food and fuel halfway between Christchurch and Dunedin. Drop the anchors, people! Straying into the CBD reveals a remarkably intact Edwardian precinct boasting some good dining and interesting shopping, not to mention a clutch of cultural attractions and lovely parks, all of which sustain at least a day's stopover.

The town’s name comes from the Māori name Te Maru, meaning ‘place of shelter’. No permanent settlement existed here until 1839, when the Weller brothers set up a whaling station. The Caroline, a sailing ship that transported whale oil, gave the picturesque bay its name.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Timaru.