Museums and Art Galleries in South Canterbury NZ
Learn about South Canterbury's unique heritage and culture at our many museums and art galleries.
Each of our towns has its own story to tell and local talented artists working in a variety of media can be found working throughout the region.
Ask at one of our Visitor Centres for a copy of the Museums and Heritage Guide and directions and maps to help you find your way around the many museums and art galleries around South Canterbury.
Browse our South Canterbury History Highlights and South Canterbury Regional Highlights to find out more about South Canterbury's living history, or browse our business listings for more details about museums and galleries around South Canterbury NZ.
Museums at a Glance
- Fairlie Heritage Museum
Extensive complex with collections of rural life and history. 49 Mt Cook Road, Fairlie. Open daily 9.30 am - 4:00 pm daily from mid-September to the first week in June. Winter hours weekends only, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm (or by request, ask at the Timaru or Geraldine i-SITE Visitor Centres . Closed public holidays. Entry charge.
- Geraldine Historical Museum
A snapshot of Geraldine's fascinating history housed in a charming historic building. 5 Cox Street, Geraldine. Open Monday - Saturday 10:00 am - 3:00 pm, Sunday 12.30 - 3:00 pm. Entry by donation.
- Geraldine Lace Museum
240A Talbot St, Geraldine. Large private collection of antique lace in various forms and types, some unique to New Zealand, with many historic exhibits. Other items relating to threads, weaving, spinning and sewing can also be seen. Viewing welcome by arrangement, groups welcome, ask at the Geraldine i-SITE Visitor Centre.
- Geraldine Medieval Mosaic Museum
10 Wilson St, Geraldine. Visually stunning, intricate depiction of the English Battle of Hastings (1066), created in Geraldine over a 25 year period. This recreation of the events, culture and history of the Norman Conquest is a stunning 42 metres, hand painted onto a canvas of two million steel chips. Open Mon - Fri 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Entry charge.
- Geraldine Vintage Car and Machinery Museum
Over 2000 exhibits including tractors, motor vehicles, farm machinery. 178 Talbot Street, Geraldine. Open daily 10:00 am - 4:00 pm October to June, or by arrangement. Entry charge.
- NZ Microlight Heritage Museum
Rangitata Island Aerodrome, 1 Brodie Road, Rangitata Island
Featuring a unique collection of first generation microlights, some available to hire. Over 20 aircraft and memorabilia.
- Pleasant Point Museum and Railway
Large complex with an operational steam railway, restored railcar, fascinating artefacts and snippets of local history. Entry from main road, entry charge. Ask at one of our i-SITE Visitor Centres for steaming days.
- Richard Pearse Airport Museum
Historical aviation collections including the story of local aviation pioneer Richard Pearse, reputed to have taken flight in a self designed and built plane months before the Wright Brothers. Levels, Timaru. Open Sundays 2:00 - 4:00 pm, or by arrangement. Entry by donation.
- South Canterbury Museum
Located on Perth Street, downtown Timaru, the South Canterbury Museum houses a wonderful array of exhibits and objects reflecting our region’s nature, Maori heritage, European settlement and recent social history. A temporary exhibition area allows visitors to explore a wide range of subjects in more depth. Open Tuesday to Friday 10am – 4:30pm, Saturday and Sunday 1:30 – 4:30pm. Archives research area open in afternoons (except Saturday).
- South Canterbury Traction Engine and Vintage Machinery Club
Interesting collection of vintage steam and farm machinery. 35 Brosnahans Road, Seadown (off State Highway 1). Open Mondays 1:00 - 4:00 pm. Entry free.
- Temuka Courthouse Museum
Extensive history of the Temuka region including the iconic Temuka pottery. 45 Alexandra Street, Temuka. Open Sundays 1:00 - 4:00 pm (October to May). Entry by donation.
- The Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, Aoraki Mt Cook Alpine Village
A unique insight into the region’s mountaineering and geographical history including memorabilia and displays on the country’s most famous mountaineer, Sir Edmund Hillary. Open daily 9:00 am - 5.30 pm, summer 8:00 am - 10:00 pm. Entry charge.
- Waimate Museum
Historic reserve hosting a range of justice buildings, scenic grounds and more. 28 Shearman Street. Open Tuesdays-Fridays 1:00 - 4:00 pm, weekends 1:00 - 3:00 pm. Entry by donation.
Sculptures & Art Galleries to Explore
There are many interesting and thought provoking sculptures scattered around South Canterbury, as local artists continue to influence the landscape. Limestone, serpentine and marble sculptures grace the grounds of the Aigantighe Art Gallery. Outdoor sculptures such as "Captain Cain", who sits outside the Landing Services Building and i-SITE Visitor Centre in Timaru’s George Street have a special place in the heart of South Canterbury people. In recent years, the Heartland Sculpture Challenge has inspired several works of different shapes, sizes and textures, representing many facets of South Canterbury life, history and experience.
For art lovers galleries around the region display a wide variety of artworks and styles, many offering artwork for sale. Here is a selection for starters:
- Aigantighe Art Gallery Wai-iti Road, Timaru
Aigantighe (pronounced 'egg and tie') means 'at home' in Scottish Gaelic. Founded as a public art museum in 1956 on the site of one of Timaru's most notable historic homes and within easy walking distance from central Timaru, the Aigantighe Art Gallery enjoys a well-deserved reputation as having one of the best collections of New Zealand art to be found in any provincial city.
Regularly showing regional, national and international exhibitions, the Aigantighe has a strong local following with patrons of all ages. A lively and innovative holiday programme is a constant favourite with the children - in particular art hunts, historic painting dress-ups (a New Zealand museum first) and the much-loved Arty the Art Car. In the grounds of this unique and historic Art Gallery, a sculpture garden with works in limestone, serpentine and marble by New Zealand, Japanese and African artists is always open. Gallery hours: Tuesday to Friday, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm. Saturday and Sunday, 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm, closed Monday.
- Allison Art 24 Wilson St, Geraldine
Gallery featuring well-known South Canterbury and New Zealand artists. Open by arrangement - ask at the Timaru or Geraldine i-SITE Visitor Centres.
- John Badcock Studio Gallery Greenvale Rd, Geraldine
A collection of tihs well known local artist' s own works. Open by chance or ask at the Timaru or Geraldine i-SITE Visitor Centre.
- Patchwork Art Gallery 23 Pye Road, The Downs, Geraldine
Colourful collection of locally made artisan patchwork and quilting pieces. Viewing by chance or ask at the Timaru or Geraldine i-SITE Visitor Centres.
- Saffron Gallery of Art
Ken Wills complex, 300 Hilton Highway (northbound State Highway 1), Timaru. One of New Zealand’s premier dealer art galleries showing quality New Zealand fine art. Open Monday - Friday 10:00 am - 5.30 pm, Saturday & Sunday 10:00 - 4:00 pm or by appointment.
- Studio 226, 226 Te Moana Road, Pleasant Valley, Geraldine
Visit working artist and sculptor, Yanna Houwaard. Studio offers organised workshops catering to all mediums. Open by chance or appointment; ask at the Timaru or Geraldine i-SITE Visitor Centres.
- Studio Pottery Gallery 106 Pye Rd, The Downs, Geraldine
Featuring the work of Audrey Wallace, an experienced South Canterbury potter producing unique and varied functional sculptural clay art forms. Open by chance or ask at the Timaru or Geraldine i-SITE Visitor Centres.
- Wild Art Cnr State Highway One Winchester and Winchester/Geraldine Road
Artist Wayne Patrick’s colourful images of local scenes, iconic buildings and wildlife are popular momentos with visitors to the region. Open by appointment or check at the Timaru or Geraldine i-SITE Visitor Centres for opening hours.
- York Street Gallery of Fine Art 21 York Street, Timaru
Contemporary and traditional art works (and funky pottery) by well known artists. Local sculptor Debbie Templeton works and tutors sculpture from her studio at the back of the art gallery. Open Monday to Saturday 11:00 am - 3:00 pm.