Timaru is a charming port city located in South Canterbury.
Home to 29,000 people, this small city offers a laid-back option for students who want to experience life in an authentic New Zealand city.
Living in Timaru as a student
The Ara Institute of Canterbury – School of English can organise for you to stay in private accommodation or with a host family. Most students prefer a homestay when they first arrive as this provides extra opportunities to practise English, while getting connected with a local family.
You can choose from a range of English language courses, and if you decide to stay in Timaru after you’ve finished your English studies, Ara offers some excellent technology and trade programmes.
What to do in Timaru
On Saturday mornings, grab some food from the Farmers’ Market and take it to one of Timaru’s stunning parks or gardens. Our students love meeting at Caroline Bay Park for a walk or a picnic. The park features a skate park, a rose garden, and a venue for concerts and a carnival in the summer.
Art lovers should visit the Aigantighe Art Gallery. It’s located in a beautiful 1908 mansion and has one of the largest public art collections in New Zealand.
Make sure you visit the Te Ana Māori Rock Art Centre to see fascinating exhibitions about the mysteries of local Māori rock art, and learn more about the area’s rich history at the South Canterbury Museum.
When the sun goes down at night, walk to Marine Parade to see little blue penguins return to their burrows. You can spot other local wildlife and birds along the picturesque South Beach Coastal Track.
Eating and drinking in Timaru
While you’re in Timaru, make sure you try one of the famous Denheath Custard Squares, a delicious treat for your afternoon tea!
Try A Slice of Heaven for cheap, tasty pizza, or grab a bubble tea from Naruwan. In the evening, eat bao buns at Street Food Kitchen, followed by cocktails at Hector Black’s, a funky bar and live music venue.
What to see and do in the Timaru region
A favourite pastime for English language students is exploring some of the 500 sites of historic Māori rock art around the Timaru region.
Spend some time at Pleasant Point, where you can see their historic railway and take a walk along the Opihi River with a real fruit ice cream from Strawberry Divine.
Timaru’s handy location makes it easy to take a fun day trip. When you want a change of pace, the bright lights of Christchurch are just two hours away, or visit the city of Dunedin, which is two and a half hours south of Timaru.
Lake Tekapo is another fantastic option. You can hike through spectacular scenery or relax in the hot pools. In the evening, visit the Mt John Observatory for a glimpse of the stunning night sky, or enjoy a stargazing tour through the Dark Sky Reserve.
Timaru is also close to ski fields and a range of adventure activities, such as white water rafting and jetboating.
Why learn English in Timaru?
Choose Timaru if you want to study English while experiencing the natural splendour of the South Island from the comfort of a large town