South Canterbury is a family friendly holiday base full of hidden surprises. Spend time in central Timaru or explore further afield to nearby Geraldine, Peel forest, Pleasant Point, Temuka or Waimate. Whether you're stopping for a day trip or taking time out to relax, you'll find plenty to discover and enjoy with the kids.
Highlights for Family Fun
- take a trip back in time aboard the steam train or Model T Railcar in Pleasant Point. At the end of your ride, watch classic cartoons in the old time movie theatre, then back to the station for a yummy snack. Look for the Legends Café across the road – home of South Canterbury’s famous and delectable Denheath Custard Square
- Caroline Bay and its iconic summer Caroline Bay Carnival has been attracting holiday makers for more than a century. The beachfront area has lookout points, beachfront boardwalks, children's playground areas, paddling pools, a world-class roller skating rink and numerous picnic spots. Enjoy Fish & Chips on the beach!
- wander up into town for lunch or dinner - most local restaurants have children’s menus
- soak up all the fun you need at the Trust Aoraki Centre (CBAY Aquatic Centre) near Caroline Bay - kids will appreciate the lazy river and water play areas while adults can enjoy the main pool, gym and sauna/spa options. Great healthy fare for all at the Graze Café.
- get out and about with the kids - South Canterbury offers numerous tracks and trails for walkers and mountain-bikers
- get up close and personal with Waimate’s wallabies as you walk amongst, touch, feed and cuddle these animals, found nowhere else in New Zealand
- talk to our Visitor Centres about guided activities, including rafting and kayaking, that can be tailored to suit the needs of family groups
- heritage attractions such as the South Canterbury Museum and Aigantighe Art Gallery have children’s activities and run popular daily holiday programmes
- the Geraldine Vintage Car and Machinery Museum is great fun with the kids, over 1400 exhibits on display, including the only surviving 1929 Spartan biplane in the world and over 100 tractors, one of them the oldest working tractor in New Zealand
- visit the Rangitata Aerodrome and see the Heritage Museum collection of aviation memorabilia; view the microlight aircraft housed there and enquire about training flights
- mini-golf is a great family activity and can be enjoyed at Caroline Bay, Café Mes Amis at Orari or the Shearer’s Quarters Café and Giftshop, which also has farmyard animals for the kids to feed
- ask at the Timaru Visitor Centre for a list of the footpath brass rubbing spots – great fun with the kids on a sunny day and a good way to wear off some energy!
With one of the safest beaches on the East Coast of New Zealand and large areas of recreational space, South Canterbury is a great place to take the kids. Come and spend some family time with us and visit one of our many child friendly cafes and restaurants. Try some of the many activities and adventures available to family members of all ages and interests.