Timaru

Cheap Air New Zealand flights to Timaru, affordable hotels and discounted rental cars with Air New Zealand's grabaseat!

One of South Canterbury's growth areas is astrotourism. Do you know what that is? Right, have a little think about it and we'll come back to it soon and let you know if you're right.

First though: Timaru, home of the beautiful Caroline Bay. Even the name of the bay sounds beautiful, doesn't it? Unfortunately it's not named after a stunningly attractive woman, it's named after the ship Caroline, which used to call in regularly to drop off whale blubber. Sorry.

Timaru is famous for its roses - you'll find over 1200 varieties at the local park. The roses there are so beautiful, Timaru would probably be known as New Zealand's rose town to this day if someone up the line hadn't stolen the name for themselves (sleep with one eye open, Te Awamutu).

South Canterbury is home to lots of these pretty towns, all full of history. Temuka is a great example - it's where locals believe Richard Pearse became the first person in the world to fly a plane, even before the Wright Brothers. Temuka has a monument to this early aviator and encourages you to go take a look and 'make your own mind up'. Yep, that's what they say but we doubt you'd be very popular in the Temuka pub that night if you made your mind up that it probably never happened. As with most local legends, we'd advise just going with the flow on this one.

Further south, Waimate is where you'll find New Zealand's biggest collection of wild wallabies, so make sure you go take a look. Waimate is well set up for you to spend an afternoon patting them when you get there.

As you head west you enter MacKenzie Country, a stunningly picturesque part of New Zealand with massive plains, glacial lakes and big snow capped mountains. Did you work it out what astrotourism was? Correct! Yes, the lack of light pollution and big open skies make the area very popular with people who are into astronomy: the science of watching the stars (not to be confused with astrology: the science of asking someone in a bar whether they're a Gemini).

...but wait, there are more hotels