A lake and small township on a sunny day in South Canterbury.

Discover the greatest places to eat, drink, shop, and explore in South Canterbury.

Synonymous with some of the most stunning landscapes in Aotearoa, South Canterbury is known as the home of Aoraki, the tallest mountain in the country; picturesque rolling hills, vast grassy plains and bright turquoise lakes. It’s also where you’ll find a number of idyllic small towns filled with interesting boutiques, galleries and a growing number of class eateries. Naturally bound by the snow-capped ridge of the Southern Alps in the West, the Pacific Ocean in the East and the Waitaki and Rangitata rivers in the South and North, South Canterbury is proudly home to picturesque scenery and hard-working rural communities. The region is dotted with small towns perfect for day trips or as bases for a huge number of outdoor activities.

The largest town of the region, Timaru, sits right on the shore of the East Coast and is filled with historical buildings, top-quality restaurants, fashion outlets, cute boutiques and intriguing galleries. Caroline Bay, with its sweeping parks and sandy beach right in the town center, offers a retreat away from the hustle and bustle.

Just a quick drive inland, you’ll find the cute small town of Geraldine, which is nestled amongst the undulating foothills of the Southern Alps. A hub of creatives, makers and producers, you’ll be able to taste and explore your way around town easily on foot.

Further South, Fairlie is known as a midwinter ski-town, yet it’s just as charming other times of the year. Filled with quality boutiques and home to the famous Fairlie Bakehouse pies, this town is a true South Canterbury gem.

Famous for clear night skies and a world-renowned observatory, a spectacular, turquoise, glimmering lake and the historical Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo is a small settlement filled with activities and wonderful hospitality. It is the ideal base for both winter and summer outdoor activities, plus the most visually appealing place to retreat to afterwards.

Last but not least, the Southernmost town of the region, Twizel, is continuously growing with interesting new hospitality spots and all the services you need to make the most of the Aoraki National Park, which lies just a stone's throw away.

12 Hours in Timaru

Mural painted on side of building in Timaru.

Make the most of your flying visit to Timaru with our 12 hour guide, which will have you sipping the best coffee, nipping into intriguing boutiques and galleries, learning about the ancient practice of Māori rock art and filling up on the best food in town.

The Yellow Door Café

The Yellow Door exterior in Timaru.
Place South Canterbury Timaru
Cafes key icon.

One of the latest additions to Timaru’s café scene, The Yellow Door at the high end of Stafford Street is hard to miss.

The Running Duck

The kitschy interior of The Running Duck cafe in Geraldine.
Place South Canterbury Geraldine
Cafes key icon.

Stepping inside the Running Duck café in the heart of Geraldine is like stepping inside a proper kiwi bach, albeit with great coffee on tap.

Timaru Booksellers

Close up of modern fiction for sale at Bay Hills Books in Timaru, New Zealand.
Place South Canterbury Timaru

There is something quite special about stumbling across small, independent booksellers. Timaru Booksellers, in the heart of Timaru, is definitely one of those petite treasure troves for literature lovers.

Hector Black's

Four people sitting on couches around in a circle inside the bar at Hector Black's in Timaru.
Place South Canterbury Timaru Editor's Pick
Bars key icon. Restaurants key icon.

If a unique, cosy atmosphere, regular live music and a great selection of beverages sound like your kind of bar, then Hector Black’s is a must-visit.

Dead2b

Towels, bags, flowers and homewares on display.
Place South Canterbury Timaru

A must-visit for anyone wanting to create a calm and considered home.

Saikou

Red leather bench seating at Saikou, Timaru.
Place South Canterbury Timaru
Restaurants key icon.

If you find yourself craving a night of teppanyaki and whisky while in Timaru, point your nose to Saikou.

The Greedy Cow Café

A close up of loaded toast on a table in the sunshine at the Greedy Cow in Tekapo.
Place South Canterbury Lake Tekapo
Restaurants key icon.

This sunny corner store café in the heart of Lake Tekapo is a must stop whether you are just passing through or in town for longer.

Mint Folk & Co

A close up of a flat white on a table at Mint Folk and Co in Twizel.
Place South Canterbury Twizel Editor's Pick
Cafes key icon.

Perhaps the most visually appealing cafe in the Mackenzie region, Mint Folk & Co is all about great food, great aesthetic and great service.

Barker's Foodstore & Eatery

Retail and tasting area at Barker's Foodstore and Eatery, Geraldine.
Place South Canterbury Geraldine
Cafes key icon. Goods key icon.

Barker’s Foodstore & Eatery sits in a stunning setting on the banks of the Waihi River in the heart of Geraldine.

77 Art + Living

Art on display on a brick wall and a colourful chair on a wooden floor at 77 Art + Living in Fairlie.
Place South Canterbury Fairlie

Fairlie might not be the first town that comes to mind when thinking of wonderful independent galleries across the motu, but 77 Art + Living is here to change that.

Black & Co

Taxidermy chicken at Black & Co, Timaru.
Place South Canterbury Timaru
Fashion key icon.

Black & Co is located in the south end of Timaru’s CBD and focuses on quality fashion pieces for men and women, luxurious homewares and unique jewellery, the store is a must-visit.

The Little Red Fox

The inside of The Red Little Fox store in Fairlie.
Place South Canterbury Fairlie

The Little Red Fox is a contemporary fashion store located in the Mackenzie country town of Fairlie. Housed in a high ceilinged, stone-clad building in the centre of town, natural tones and raw wood beams set the scene for a pleasurable browsing experience.

5 Neat Mackenzie Activities and Where to Treat Yourself Afterwards

Aoraki Mt Cook on a sunny day.
The scenic Mackenzie Region is filled with a multitude of activities and experiences. The stunning landscapes of vast plains, snow-covered mountaintops and glimmering turquoise lakes create a picture-perfect backdrop to these outdoor activities; all of which are complemented by the region's ever-growing quality hospitality offerings.

Silverstream Hotel

Dining area at Silverstream Hotel, Kimbell.
Place South Canterbury Kimbell
Accommodation key icon. Bars key icon. Restaurants key icon.

The Silverstream Hotel, a historical country pub in Kimbell, is an iconic Mackenzie region destination.

Blue Lake Eatery & Bar

Doorway looking into the bar area at Blue Lake Eatery and Bar, Tekapo.
Place South Canterbury Lake Tekapo
Bars key icon. Restaurants key icon.

Blue Lake Eatery & Bar boasts a menu that’s heavily influenced by the seasons and local produce - and with a French twist on Kiwi classics - think beef cheeks marinated in red wine or hot goat cheese salad with local Mackenzie honey.

The Oxford

A close up of the halloumi salad at The Oxford restaurant in Timaru.
Place South Canterbury Timaru Editor's Pick
Restaurants key icon.

Ask a Timaru local where to eat in town and chances are they will point you in the direction of The Oxford.

Petronella's Gallery and Bookstore

Woman looking at books at Petronella's Gallery and Bookstore, Tekapo.
Place South Canterbury Lake Tekapo
Galleries and museum key icon.

Lake Tekapo’s only independent bookstore, Petronella’s Gallery and Bookstore, offers a sanctuary for both book and art lovers.

A Beginner’s Guide to the Southern Alps (for the Non-Outdoorsy Types)

Looking towards the snow covered mountains of the New Zealand southern alps on a sunny day.

The Southern Alps are celebrated around the world for their beauty. With incredible walks, tramps, skiing and outdoor adventures abound, it can feel like an adventurer’s paradise. However, if you prefer to enjoy the views in comfort, the Southern Alps still have plenty to offer. 

York St Gallery of Fine Art

Art on the walls and sculptures on the floor inside York Street Gallery in Timaru.
Place South Canterbury Timaru

Creatives of Canterbury rejoice—York Street Gallery of Fine Art in Timaru is here to satisfy your art cravings.

Carnegie's Restaurant & Bar

Waitress serving a table at Carnegie's Restaurant and Bar, Fairlie.
Place South Canterbury Fairlie
Bars key icon. Restaurants key icon.

Set in a stunning, historical building that was originally built as a Carnegie library in the early 1900s, Carnegie's Restaurant & Bar is a true Mackenzie destination in...

Farm Barn Café

Flowers and cake on table at Farm Barn Café in Fairlie.
Place South Canterbury Fairlie Editor's Pick
Cafes key icon.

If there was ever a perfect stop to make when on the road with the family, Farm Barn Café on top of Mount Michael in the heart of Mackenzie District is it.

Te Ana Māori Rock Art Centre

Wide angle of Te Ana Maori Rock Art Centre, Timaru.
Place South Canterbury Timaru

Te Ana Māori Rock Art Centre in Timaru offers visitors a rare opportunity to experience and learn about the ancient Māori practice of rock art.

Geraldine Cheese Company

Geraldine Cheese Company exterior.
Place South Canterbury Geraldine
Goods key icon.

Geraldine Cheese Co. handcrafts small-batch cheese varieties in its petite factory in the heart of Geraldine town centre.

Matilda & The Metalman

Leather bags and flowers at Matilda and The Metalman, Fairlie.
Place South Canterbury Fairlie

Matilda & The Metalman sits neatly in a large corner shop space on Fairlie’s main street.

Humdinger Gin Distillery

Bottles of gin lined up in a row waiting for stickers to be placed on them at Humdinger Gin Distillery in Geraldine.
Place South Canterbury Geraldine
Goods key icon.

 There’s a sense of discovery when walking down the alleyway off the main street in Geraldine to a former garage workshop, which has been refurbished to house the...

Three Creeks

The three buildings of Three Creeks set in front of rolling hills.
Place South Canterbury Burkes Pass
Cafes key icon.

Part museum, part second hand and vintage store, part coffee cart and real fruit ice cream trailer – there is so much to explore at Three Creeks.

Dark Sky Diner

Waitress serving a table at Dark Sky Diner, Tekapo.
Place South Canterbury Lake Tekapo
Restaurants key icon.

Lakefront location, intimate interiors and compelling cuisine make Dark Sky Diner the ultimate Lake Tekapo dining destination.

Café Verde

A covered verandah outside Cafe Verde, surrounded by greenery in Geraldine.
Place South Canterbury Geraldine
Cafes key icon.

Café Verde in Geraldine is known for its luscious garden setting and outstanding food. Located in an old phone-exchange building, this is the local café-goers meeting spot where generations of friends and family come together over a cuppa.

Ministry of Works

Interior view of table at Ministry of Works, Twizel.
Place South Canterbury Twizel
Restaurants key icon.

Ministry of Works is the social go-to for both Twizel residents and visitors alike.

Fairlie Bakehouse

Close up of a woman holding a paper bag with 'Fairlie Bakehouse' written on it.
Place South Canterbury Fairlie
Cafes key icon.

What began as a tiny family business with a team of four thirteen years ago, has grown to be one of the best known and most awarded pie-shops in the country – Fairlie Bakehouse.

A Drink & Dine Experience for Every Season in South Canterbury

A flatlay of plates of food on a table at Mint Folk in Twizel.
From the hopeful splashes of spring colour to the thick of a white winter, no matter the outside air temperature, memorable dining experiences abound throughout South Canterbury.

Arthur Street Kitchen

Couple sat at a table drinking coffee at Arthur St Kitchen, South Canterbury.
Place South Canterbury Timaru Editor's Pick
Cafes key icon.

Renowned for its delicious breakfast and lunch menu, plus house-made baking and hearty salads, Arthur Street Kitchen takes pride in producing as much as possible on their premises.

Astro Café

People looking out to the mountain views at Astro Cafe, Tekapo.
Place South Canterbury Lake Tekapo
Cafes key icon.

Quite possibly the most scenic spot for a flat white in Aotearoa, Astro Café is a coffee shop experience not to be missed when visiting the Mackenzie region.

Susan Badcock Gallery & The Mailroom

Artwork and sculpture at Susan Badcock Gallery,  Geraldine.
Place South Canterbury Geraldine Editor's Pick

Explore this unconventional gallery space where contemporary artworks by Susan Badcock and the wider creative Badcock family are showcased alongside other New Zealand artists.

Hydro Café & Twizel Bookshop

A door to the entrance to the bookshop from Hydro Café in Twizel.
Place South Canterbury Twizel
Cafes key icon.

Hydro Café has been keeping the good people of Twizel well hydrated for nearly a decade.