The port city of Tīmaru is built on rolling hills created from the lava flows of an extinct volcano. With a population of 29,000 it is the second largest city in Canterbury – a thriving commercial centre, holiday resort, and home to the world-famous Denheath Custard Squares.
Strategically located between Christchurch and Dunedin, Tīmaru was an integral component of the extensive Ngāi Tahu network of kāinga nohoanga (settlements) and a rich source of mahinga kai (traditional food gathering).
The name Tīmaru has two possible origins – the more literal ‘ti maru’ meaning ‘shady cabbage tree’, and also ‘Te Maru’, meaning 'place of shelter'.
Māori waka (canoes) used Tīmaru as a place to rest on journeys up and down the eastern coastline for many years before the arrival of the first Europeans in the 19th century. The area includes over 500 sites with traces of Māori rock art, particularly in the rock overhangs and caves of the Opuha and Opihi river valleys, to the west of the city. Archaeologists have suggested that Māori tribes were permanently settled in the district before 1400 AD.
Te Ana Maori Rock Art invites you to follow in the footsteps of their ancestors… shelter here and enjoy a unique rock art experience which includes the most significant collection of ancient Maori rock art in New Zealand.