First cruise ship visits Timaru in two years, town bustling
Timaru’s CBD was bustling on Thursday morning as passengers from the district’s first cruise ship visit in two years disembarked to “spend money’’ and take in the sights.
While some passengers went on day excursions throughout South Canterbury, a large number chose to remain in Timaru where they were directed to the town’s Information Centre.
* Timaru to get a cruise ship visit in February
* Cruise ships to keep coming back to Timaru as second for season berths in port
* Seabourn Encore returns to Timaru’s port after three years
From there they could choose to do one of five independent tours taking in Timaru’s attractions, peruse through the Timaru Artisan Farmers Market – specifically set up for the day, or look around the town by themselves.
One pair choosing the latter option were Larry and Ann Molloy, of Sydney, who were excited to get off the ship and into town.
While Ann had never visited Timaru, her husband had about 45-years ago.
“I’ve been looking forward to coming back,’’ Larry said.
The pair had hopped onboard the Seabourn Odyssey in Sydney and had visited Phillip Island, Melbourne, Milford Sound and Oban.
They had about six nights left on the ship before they would disembark in Auckland.
Ann was looking forward to exploring the town, while Larry was keen to hire an e-bike.
“We’re here to spend money,’’ Ann said.
Meanwhile, Brenda Whitaker and Stuart Lowery, of Queensland, were also looking forward to seeing the sights of Timaru, with Lowery having visited the district as a child.
“The last time I was here was probably pre-2005,’’ Stuart said.
“But I can remember Caroline Bay as Mum and Dad used to bring us down [from Christchurch] for day visits.’’
Stuart was not looking forward to seeing anything in particular, instead excited to “soak up the area again’’, but Caroline Bay would “definitely’’ be on the list.
Richard and Lisa Vaughn, of Perth, had been in Timaru about five years ago, and Richard remembered having a “lovely lunch at a Monteiths’’ on the Bay Hill.
The couple has been seaborne about 11 times in their lives, enjoying the ship life, he said.
Timaru Artisan Farmers Market manager Andrea Hutton said the first-ever cruise ship market was a good way to trial the ship’s visit.
“We have 16 stalls, and we’re looking to see how well it goes,’’ Hutton said.
Market stallholders were excited about the visit, and keen to show passengers a snippet of the crafts on offer in Timaru.
Chop Chop stallholder Lynn Taylor said she created a Timaru/New Zealand vibe for her Thursday stall.
A regular at the Saturday Timaru Artisan Farmers Market, she had a selection of wooden boards, cards, notepads and themed coasters for sale.
“I’m 100% excited,’’ she said.
“Depending on how today goes, I will be here for the next visit.’’
Venture Timaru tourism marketing and engagement manager Sharnae Naysmith said it was exciting to have cruise ships back to town.
“We’re really happy, and we’re really looking forward to showcasing what is on offer in the district,’’ Naysmith said.
She was not sure of the exact number of people who had booked different trips out of Timaru, but was happy to see those who had chosen to come down to the Information Centre.
“This is a bit of a trial run in terms of the first one [visit] and a chance to build as the season goes forward, hopefully.’’
Aside from the Raptor Trust Experience being offered to passengers, the other four tours, a boutique tour of Geraldine, a tour of Timaru landmarks, a trip to Waimate and an old wheels tour, had all been created specifically for the cruise ship passengers, she said.
The next cruise ship visit to Timaru is January 16, when the Seabourn Odyssey returns. The Noordam will be the next vessel to visit, on January 22, the biggest ship to visit Timaru this season, carrying up to 1900 passengers and 800 crew.