I can’t thank Karen & family enough for a wonderful week of home comforts, and a chance to rest and explore after working hard in Dunedin. Here’s some of our activity highlights if you find yourself down in this part of NZ…
First and foremost of course – explore Timaru itself! The town is fairly small, but the highlight for me was definitely the beachfront. As well as a stroll along the boardwalks down to the beach, this area has been renovated in recent years, and has plenty of activities coming and going. The bird aviary saw some giggles (fortunately without any birds on my head this time, they went forKaren!) and we perused an interesting gypsy market one weekend, resisting the urge to buy everything, or get an overpriced palm reading!
Driving around the surrounding area is a treat in itself also, including a stop to take a very NZ photo – green fields and hundreds of sheep! My phone told me that the location of this photo is “Beautiful Valley” – very fitting!
Continuing slightly further, you reach Geraldine – where you must visit Barker’s to sample every single jam and chutney, Talbot Forest Cheese to eat all of the cheese, and if you still have space, dine at The Running Duck and gorge on incredible milkshakes and burgers (including delicious gluten free options!). Most importantly, don’t miss out on sighting the worlds largest JUMPER!
Always keen for a day trip, it was a short trip down the coast to check out one of the main attractions in this part of NZ. On route, we took a detour to Waimate to say hello to some wallabies and some freakisly large turkeys, in the small, free animal park within the gardens.
It’s also free to take a stroll along the beach to see the boulders, which are a rather unusual sight. Moari legend suggests that they are remains from the wreck of Arai-te-uru, a large sailing canoe. But either way, the almost perfectly round boulders are fun to explore, and of course make for many a perfect instagram post!
The most common reason you may have heard this name, is as a home to the yellow eyed penguins. Rather a sore point, as after attempting 3 different locations, we weren’t lucky enough to see any of these adorably awkward little birds, but we did see some beautiful places in the hunt. Continuing the same success rate as the hunt in Dunedin, we of course saw many, MANY seals during this search!! Some people are lucky enough to pop by and see them straight away (again, not bitter at all…) so it’s definitely worth giving it a go!
But dont spend all of your time on the penguin hunt! The Victorian quarter of Oamaru is full of stunning old buildings, vintage stores, book stores, and Scotts Brewing Co which even brews its own GLUTEN FREE BEER!
Also home to Steampunk HQ, this is definitely a spot to take a look at the fascinating structures outside. The museum was closed as we visited, but I’m sure this is an interesting experience based upon its exterior!
Having briefly seen Tekapo on our initial trip into Timaru, we were lucky enough to return on a day with bright sunshine and perfect blue skies, giving me the opportunity to see the lake in all its glory! We took a stroll around the village and down over the bridge to the church of the good shepherd, and the close by sheepdog statue, celebrating how important the dogs are to sheep farmers livelihoods in the area. As per usual I couldn’t resist taking a quick paddle to see how icy cold the glacier water was!
Strolling back towards the village we discovered a zipwire, and after spending some time being excitable children, it was onto the pub for some refreshing NZ cider! It would be lovely to have spent more time here to relax in the hot springs, and especially to visit the observatory to learn more about the starry skies, but they can stay on the list for next time.
We rounded off my time in Timaru with a last stop off in Christchurch. As a formal local, I had myself the perfect tour guide, and it was fascinating to walk around the city and see how little of the area has seen completed redevelopment after the 2011 earthquake. The Cathedral remains in ruins with no real plan in place deciding what its fate will be. The newly created Container Mall, which as the name suggests, is made up of shipping containers, has become more of a permanent fixture and was easily my favourite part of the city, fitting well with the great street art I saw dotted around.
Lucky enough to have another great day weatherwise, a walk around the botanic gardens was a perfect afternoon activity. When my luck changed and I was faced with a long rainy day to pass, the Museum was perfect for this, and I greatly enjoyed an Air New Zealand exhibition, learning more about the history of the countries national airline.
For my final nights in the city, I stayed in the Jailhouse Hostel, which as it suggests, is indeed, a former jailhouse! Although a little bit eerie, and a little quiet while I was there, the kitchen was decent, the bathrooms were very clean, and an almost empty hostel meant myself and a couple of others had first choice of movie for the movie room! Location wise, the hostel was about a 15 minute walk into the city. If I’m perfectly honest Christchurch wasn’t my favourite place in NZ, perhaps as there is still such a long way to go in rebuilding the city after the earthquake, and I hope one day it regains more of a buzz. But nonetheless it’s worth a stop, and definitely get yourself an allpress coffee to kickstart the day!
After a fond farewell to Karen and our trusty borrowed VW, it was time to prepare for the start of another, slightly less prestigous adventure… VAN LIFE!!
Hope you’re ready Hex, because this was quite the challenge for Princess Penelope!
With kindest regards,
Have you visited any of these places? Are there any great spots in this part of New Zealand that Peps missed out on?! We would love to hear!