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Caroline Bay, Timaru

Caroline Bay, Timaru

Caroline Bay is Timaru’s version of an inner city beach, kind of like Waikiki Beach in Honolulu (only nowhere near as tropical). It’s one of the main reasons to stop in Timaru, especially on a warm summer’s day. You can easily walk down to the beach from the main street and there is quite a bit to see, including gardens, viewpoints and a summer carnival.

Caroline Bay Beach

I spent the first 10 years of my life in Timaru, and while those memories have mostly faded I do still recall summer days and evenings spent at Caroline Bay. It was fun to return recently and explore this place as a tourist. The beach is decent and the water looked pretty clear considering there’s a large port nearby. There were heaps of people relaxing and swimming when we visited — there aren’t many other beaches nearby so everyone seems to congregate at Caroline Bay.

Caroline Bay, Timaru

Above the beach

You can walk up the cliffs behind Caroline Bay for some nice views. There’s also a lighthouse up there which adds to the seaside scene.

Caroline Bay from above, Timaru, New ZealandCaroline Bay lighthouse, Timaru, New Zealand

Gardens and Carnival Rides

There is a lot to see behind the beach, including gardens, an aviary which is home to some very exotic birds, a piazza (basically a big set of stairs), some strange artwork, a pool for the kids and plenty of grassy areas for cricket (or whatever sport you want to play). It’s a nice place for a stroll, and you can stop for an ice-cream if the infamous South Island heat gets too hard to handle.

The aviary at Caroline Bay, Timaru, New ZealandThe Piazza, Caroline Bay, New ZealandCat art at Caroline Bay, Timaru, New Zealand

Every summer the carnival rolls into town. I remember being extremely freaked out while riding “The Hurricane” all those years ago. It’s still there, although it does look a lot less intimidating to adult eyes. The carnival is reason enough to visit Timaru — this kind of thing isn’t all that common in New Zealand and it would be a fun night out for young and old.

Caroline Bay summer fair, Timaru, New Zealand

Getting to Caroline Bay

The main shopping street (what British people would refer to as the high street) is just above Caroline Bay. It’s the other main reason to visit Timaru — it’s full of old buildings and is one of the nicer streets of its kind in New Zealand. From there you can walk down to Caroline Bay via the Piazza. You can also drive down and park at one of several car parks closer to the beach.

Have you considered stopping in Timaru during your New Zealand road trip? Let me know in the comments below!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.