Timaru District is enjoyed by a population of approximately 48,500 people (2022), with the main population hub in Timaru City, of approximately 28,000. It has been built on rolling hills created from the lava flows of the extinct Mt Horrible volcano, with the result that many of the main streets are undulating, in clear contrast with the flat landscape of the Canterbury Plains to the north.
Timaru boasts an historically beautiful and compact central business district, linked to the Caroline Bay recreational area. The city has preserved much of its historic heritage, both in terms of its architecture and through local treasures housed in the excellent local museum. The Aigantighe Art Gallery enjoys a reputation as having one of the best collections of New Zealand and European art to be found in any regional city. Vistas from the central city over the iconic Caroline Bay through rolling hills to the Southern Alps, are breathtaking. The name Timaru is taken from the Maori "Te Maru", meaning "The Place of shelter".
The Timaru urban area is the second largest city in the Canterbury Region, two hours drive south of Christchurch.
Geraldine has a country village atmosphere and offers great cafes and boutique shopping. It is located 36 kilometres north west of Timaru with a population of approximately 2800. The town has built its reputation as a centre of arts and crafts and attracts many creative people from around NZ and overseas to live and work. Geraldine has friendly, welcoming locals and access to great jobs, schools and amenities.
Temuka is a service town for the surrounding rural area and is famous for producing the iconic Temuka Pottery. Rich with local history, the small town of Temuka was once home to Richard Pearse - the man who raced the Wright Brothers to become the first man to fly. The name Te umu kaha (original spelling) means long-lasting ovens, from the earth ovens that local Māori used to cook the plentifully-growing cabbage trees. Temuka township is situated 19 kilometres north of Timaru, on State Highway 1, with a population of 4600 people.
The small township of Pleasant Point has recreational facilities to suit all, several stores and some enterprising industries. It is known for its historic steam train at the heritage railway, the Pleasant Point Museum and Railway. The railway operates steam locomotives and one of only two Model T Ford railcar replicas in the world. It attracts about 10,000 people a year. Pleasant Point is also the original home of the iconic South Canterbury treat, the Denheath Custard Square. It is an important service town for the surrounding farming district and is situated 19km north-west of Timaru, on State Highway 8, with a population of 1490.
Situated 22 km north of Geraldine, Peel Forest is a small community located alongside the 773 hectare Peel Forest Park forest reserve. The town features a popular cafe, The Green Man, and an outdoor recreation facility. It is near the Rangitata River and is in the foothills of the Southern Alps.