Hectors’ Coastal Track, Timaru

On my first day in Timaru I walked the Hectors’ Coast Track from Caroline Bay to Dashing Rocks. Read about it here. On the second day I covered the track between Hayes Street/Stuart Street and the Otipua Wetlands.

I picked up the trail at the Timaru Cemetery (Domain Avenue, Kensington, Timaru) and walked along Saltwater Creek.

I followed Saltwater Creek until a wooden bridge and crossed over to the Otipua Wetlands.

In 1997 the Otipua Wetlands Charitable Trust was formed to restore the wetlands and Saltwater Creek to recreate the type of wetland found along the Canterbury coastline before most of them were drained in the early 19th century. Only 10 percent of New Zealand’s coastal wetlands remain.

The four hectare lake in the centre of the wetlands provides a home for local migratory birds to nest. Birds that may be seen here include Royal Spoonbills, Pied Stilts, Swans, Chestnut Breasted Shelducks, Scaup, Mallard and Paradise Ducks, White and White-Faced Herons, Pukekos, Cormorants and Black Billed Gulls.

After this I followed the track back to the Cemetery and walked to Patiti Point. The first European settlers established whale processing sites at Patiti Point. Point Point is a self-contained freedom camping spot.

From Patiti Point I walked to South Beach and finished at Stuart Street.

Caroline Bay to Dashing Rocks, Timaru

The walk to Dashing Rocks from Caroline Bay is part of the Hector’s Coastal Trail in Timaru.

The walk from Caroline Bay to Dashing Rocks takes approximately one hour. The walk starts at the northern end of the Caroline Bay carpark. Follow the track over the Benvenue Cliffs past the old lighthouse. The Benvenue Cliffs provide stunning views of the ocean, Caroline Bay and the Timaru Port in the distance.

This is the site of two shipwrecks. In May 1882 the Benvenue and The City of Perth broke loose from their moorings due to heavy swells. The two ships became grounded and capsized. Nine lives were lost in failed rescue attempt.

From the Benvenue Cliffs follow the track along the top of Waimataitai Beach to Richmond Street.

Turn right into Climie Terrace, going over the foot bridge to Moore Street. This is the beginning of the Dashing Rocks Walkway.

Follow the track along the clifftop. The Dashing Rocks are the result of ancient lava flows that have created basalt columns.

From the Dashing Rocks the track follows the edge of the bay below. The track crosses a paddock to Pacific Street. Cross Pacific Street to Westcott Street and back to Richmond Street to rejoin the path you came along.

It is possible to start this walk at Moore Street. This would take approximately 30 minutes.

Timaru Lighthouse

Timaru Lighthouse, also known as Blackett’s Lighthouse, is a former lighthouse now heritage site at the Benvenue Cliffs.

The wooden lighthouse was designed by John Blackett and was the main harbour navigation from 1878 to 1970. It is a three storey Kauri timbered lighthouse. The lighthouse tower stands at 30 feet protected by a 5 foot dome.

The lighthouse was originally lit by kerosene. This was replaced by gas in 1890 and by electric light in 1920.

In 1980 the Timaru Harbour Board moved the tower from its original position at No. 7 The Terrace to a site in Maori Park.

In 2010 it was relocated again to its current site close to the edge of the Benvenue Cliffs overlooking the sea. It is near the Caroline Bay Aquatic Centre and the pedestrian rail overbridge.

Caroline Bay, Timaru

Caroline Bay is a popular park and beach in Timaru.

After the construction of Timaru’s harbour the currents created a sandy beach. It is Timaru’s only sandy beach – in fact it is the only sandy beach between Oamaru and Banks Peninsula.

In 1902 the Borough Council leased the foreshore from the Harbour Board and decided to turn the bay into a European-style resort.

A summer carnival has been held at Caroline Bay since 1911.

As well as the summer carnival rides and sideshow games Caroline Bay has many facilities including a children’s playground, free barbeques, an outdoor gym equipment circuit, beach volleyball courts, mini golf, tennis courts, skate park and a small train offering rides. 

Beach volleyball courts

The Trevor Griffiths Rose Gardens are also located within the park. You can read more about the rose gardens in my blog post here.

The Piazza crosses the railway line connecting the Timaru CBD with Caroline Bay. Pedestrian access is via a grand staircase or lift.

Caroline Bay is also home to Timaru’s Little Blue Penguins. The penguins nestle up in the rocks next to Marina Parade. The footpath on Marina Parade is the best place to view them after sunset.

Trevor Griffiths Rose Gardens, Timaru

The Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden is a public rose garden in Caroline Bay, Timaru.

The garden was established in 2001 to honour Trevor Griffiths (1927-2010), a local rosarian, who specialised in growing and writing about old roses. Griffiiths published eight books on roses and had a rose named after him by English rosarian David Austin.

Christchurch architect Sir Miles Warren designed the garden, which contains a series of geometric beds radiating from the central pergola. This can be best seen from the piazza above.

The World Federation of Rose Societies recognised the garden as a Garden of Excellence. It has also been named a Garden of National Significance by the New Zealand Gardens Trust.

The garden contains more than 1200 roses. The best time to visit is late November to early December when the rose season is at its peak. Timaru’s annual Festival of Roses is also held around this time.

The Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden is located in Caroline Bay, adjacent to the piazza.

Sacred Heart Basilica, Timaru

The Sacred Heart Basilica is a Catholic church in Timaru.

This is the third church to be built on the Craigie Avenue property. A wooden chapel opened in 1874. This was replaced by a larger church three years later.

A further larger church building was needed as the parish continued to grow. Parish Priest Father John Tubman visited his brother in the United States who was a priest at the Catholic cathedral in Reno, Nevada. Father Tubman was impressed with the design and had plans drawn up for the new church based on his photographs of the Saint Thomas Aquinas Cathedral in Reno.

Dunedin architect Francis Petrie designed the church in Renaissance Revival style. It is constructed of Oamaru stone, brick and reinforced concrete. The foundation stone was laid on 6 February 1910. The church was completed in 1911 and was consecrated on October 1st that year.

The Basilica’s twin towers and copper cupola dominate the Timaru skyline and are visible when approaching the church.

The Sacred Heart Basilica is located at 7 Craigie Avenue, Timaru.

Aigantighe Art Gallery, Timaru

Aigantighe Art Gallery is an art gallery located in Timaru.

The art gallery was established in 1956 by the Grant family who migrated to Timaru from Scotland. Aigantighe is Scottish Gaelic for ‘at home’ and is pronounced ‘egg and tie’.

The mansion on the property was designed by architect James S. Turnbull, who was also the architect of Timaru hotel The Grosvenor (read my post about The Grosvenor here).

An additional wing was built on the 1908 mansion in 1978 to provide more extended exhibition space.

The gallery has a permanent collection of New Zealand and international art from the 16th century to today. The mansion part of the gallery has been closed since 2017 following a seismic assessment.

A sculpture garden is set amongst established trees and gardens.

Entry to the gallery is free. The gallery is open 10am – 4pm Tuesday to Friday and 12pm – 4pm Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays (closed 25 – 26 December).

Aigantighe Art Gallery is located at 49 Wai-iti Road, Maori Hill, Timaru.

Timaru Botanic Gardens

The Timaru Botanic Gardens is a public botanic garden in Timaru and one of the oldest in New Zealand.

Timaru’s Botanic Gardens offer 19 hectares of lush plants, flowers and woods to explore.

The gardens include a formal rose garden, an aviary, a fern house, a conservatory, band rotunda, and native and threatened plant collections.

The people of Timaru lobbied the Canterbury Provincial Council in 1864 to make a reserve out of unsold land at the south end of Timaru. In 1868 the planting of trees and shrubs began. Majority of the early planting was done by convicts from the Timaru Gaol.

In 2014 the Gardens were recognised as a Garden of National Significance by the New Zealand Gardens Trust.

The gates to the vehicle entrance on Queens Street close at dusk and open 8am. Pedestrian access is open 24 hours.

The Grosvenor, Timaru

The Grosvenor is a heritage hotel in Timaru.

The Grosvenor has been called ‘The Grand Old Lady of the South’ – today sadly she is looking a bit tired and worn. The hotel is currently undergoing earthquake strengthening, so hopefully there are future renovation plans to restore her to her former glory.

The foundation stone for the Grosvenor was laid in 1875. The hotel burnt down shortly after it was complete. The building that stands today was built in 1915 and was designed by architect James Turnbull.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has visited the hotel twice. I stayed in Suite 101, known as the Queen’s Room. During the 1954 Royal Tour a civic luncheon was held at The Grosvenor and Her Majesty rested in the suite in the afternoon.

Another piece of trivia, The Canterbury Rugby Football Union (CRFU) was established in the basement of the original building in 1879.

The hotel also has single, standard (Queen or Twin) and superior rooms with renovated bathrooms. There are 44 rooms in this dog-friendly hotel.

The hotel has quirky artworks painted around its interiors by local and international artists. I have read some reviews with the opinion that these artworks do not necessarily match the heritage hotel – really it is will come down to personal taste.

There is also the TGB restaurant bar, gaming lounge and three conference rooms. I did not use this facilities though.

This establishment is a no-frills hotel filled with history and character. It is clean and the service is efficient and pleasant.

The Grosvenor is located at 26 Cains Terrace, Timaru.

Exterior view of the Grosvenor Hotel, Timaru, circa 1916, photographed by Frederick George Radcliffe. Grosvenor Hotel, Timaru. Radcliffe, Frederick George, 1863-1923 : New Zealand post card negatives. Ref: 1/2-006876-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22821028

Christchurch Art Gallery

Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū is a public art gallery in Christchurch.

The Art Gallery opened in 2003 replacing the Robert McDougall Art Gallery as the city’s public art gallery. The building was used as the Civil Defence headquarters following the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes. Although the building was designed to deal with seismic events it did occur some damage during an earthquake. The gallery reopened on 19 December 2015.

There are tours at 11am and 2pm daily with a volunteer guide. The tour lasts approximately 45 to 60 minutes and is a good overview of the collection.

The exhibitions are arranged across two floors connected by a marble staircase – although check out the art piece located in the lift.

The Christchurch Art Gallery, which is located on the corner of Worcester Boulevard and Montreal Street, is open 7 days from 10am to 5pm with a late night on Wednesday.

‘Mission Statement: First we take Island Bay then take Berlin’, (Peter Robinson, 1997)
‘Not of this Time (Dreamland)’, (John Pule, 2008)
‘The Haymaker Series I-V’, (Shane Cotton, 2012)
‘chicken / man’, (Ron Mueck, 2019)
‘The Fall of Icarus (after Bruegel)’, (Bill Hammond, 1995)
‘Dispersed Humanoids Part 1’, (Andy Leleisi’uao)
‘Untitled [T & G Mural]’, (Russell Clark, 1962)