Timaru is the largest commercial centre in South Canterbury and its CBD (Central Business District) features one of New Zealand’s most significant collections of Victorian and Edwardian buildings. The high quality of the architecture reflects times of growth and prosperity in the district’s history.
After a devasting fire ravaged the mainly wooden commercial centre in December 1868, a council bylaw ruled that all new buildings in the CBD had to be constructed of masonry. As a result, more substantial buildings were constructed; Peter McRae’s grain store (known as the Landing Services Building, 1870 & 1875-76) and the former Timaru and Gladstone Board of Works (1874) on Stafford Street are early examples of this.
From the mid-1890s until the outbreak of World War I New Zealand prospered and Timaru’s CBD was transformed into a modern town centre. Many colonial business premises were demolished and replaced by larger buildings with ornamental classical facades. Over the last century there have been additions to the commercial stock but on the whole the CBD, especially Stafford Street, which was once nothing more than a cart track, has kept its turn of the 20th century aesthetic and is still admired to this day.
This is a self guided tour that you can take in any direction or order you choose. Make your own way between stops, choosing where you go.
We will be adding more of our wonderful heritage building to this list, please check back soon for more.
Check out venturetimaru.nz for inspiration on where to wine, dine, shop, play and stay while you are here.