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Panoramic view of Lyttelton; things to do in Timaru

Things to do in Timaru, New Zealand

Timaru Cruise Stop

Between the Garden City and the ecotourism capital of New Zealand lies Timaru, one of the alternate cruise ports in South Island after the 2011 earthquake left the port of Lyttelton unable to serve Christchurch. While still newly minted in the cruise circle, Timaru has long been a favoured stopover town for tourists traveling the ChristchurchDunedin coastal route, an interesting parallel to Maori’s use of Timaru as a place to rest as they go up and down South Island’s east coast.

Today, Timaru has all the amenities and facilities you might expect from a major city in South Island, plus a handful of tourist attractions that are all its own. Caroline Bay, immediately north of where your ship docks, is easily the most popular because of its accessibility to Timaru’s downtown area and child-friendly waters.

On the architectural front, Timaru is an inspiring example of a city rising from the ashes of volcanic destruction. Its present geography is reminiscent of ancient lava flows, and its “bluestone” buildings make the best use of volcanic rock spewed out by the eruptions of the now-extinct Mount Horrible.

Luckily, the eruptions did not bury precious Maori rock art, which you can view up close in one of the more than 500 sites located in the rock overhangs and caves west of Timaru’s present location. A more contemporary history which sprang from the arrival of European whalers in 1839 can still be seen in the vicinity of Caroline Bay where they erected a permanent whaling station.

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