Dashing Rocks, Timaru

The Benvenue Cliffs and Dashing Rocks, Timaru

After the Storm, Timaru Beach by John Gibb.
This 1883 oil painting is at the Auckland Art Museum
The Wreck of the Benvenue and City of Perth

1909. T. Wagstaff, Timaru

If you visit Timaru take time and walk along Caroline Bay. The northern car park on the bay is the start of the Benvenue Cliffs / Dashing Rocks one hour walk. Plaques nailed to a post commemorates lost ships and the walk gives the best view of the harbour. Pick up an information brochure from the historic bluestone, 1870 Landing Services Building on George near the railway station. There are also rock pools depending on the tide with starfish, crabs and other little creatures.

Terrible Calamity at Timaru - the day was Sunday; the sky was clear and bright, and there was absolutely no wind. A mountainous sea was running, with neither wind nor rain to keep down the swell. Wreck of the Ben Venue and City of Perth on 14 May 1882. Nine men died including the harbour-master.


The Star Wednesday 24 May 1882
Timaru - OLAREN -
The body of William Olaren, boatman, one of the unfortunate fellows who was drowned on Sunday week, washed ashore at Dashing Rock this afternoon, and was taken charge of by the police.

Timaru Herald Monday 14 November 1887 Funeral Notice
KERR - Accidentally drowned at Dashing Rocks, near Timaru, on the 12th Nov., Harry [Henry], second son of E.G. Kerr; aged nine years. Funeral notice. Residence Great South Road. J.E. Beckingham, Undertaker. Buried 14th Nov.
FILMER - Accidentally drowned at Dashing Rocks, near Timaru, Eleanor Louise [Ellen], eldest child of George Filmer; aged eleven years. Buried 14 Nov.

Inquest Tuesday 15th Nov. page 4.
Held yesterday morning at Green's Commercial Hotel, before J.S. Beswick, Esq., coroner. The jury: Messrs W.G. Drummond (foreman), W. Davies, J. Murray, J.D. Robertson, W. Ballantyne, and C. Reilly.
Edith Agnes Kerr, daughter of Mr E.G. Kerr and sister of the deceased Henry Stanley Kerr.
Maud Kerr. - aged 15. Oldest of the party of ten who had gone to Dashing Rocks for a picnic.
Charley Kerr, youngest brother to Harry.
Mary McGuinness with the party.
May McGuinness - unconscious.
Joseph Betly - freezing works employee.
Mr Lees freezing works employee heard screams
Dunford - freezing works employee
Newton - freezing works employee
Joseph Daniel Kett - publican
Mr Con. McGuiness

William Ferrier photographer.

31st July 2007, Timaru.
Five metre swells and rain. Heavy surf pounded the South Canterbury coast and knocked rocks off the eastern extension at the Port of Timaru and the archway off Dashing Rocks on the Smithfield beach, that has been a feature of the area for many years and the second archway that was forming to the east of the existing landform, leaving just a remnant of the cliffs isolated amongst the rocks.  The hole in the rock.

Timaru Herald, 25 August 1894, Page 2
An old seafaring man spoken to on the subject said he always looked for bad weather soon after a display of aurora.


Don't turn your back on the sea.

Nelson Evening Mail, 2 August 1898, Page 2
Timaru, August 1. The heaviest sea for years rolled into the bay to-day, its greatest strength being reached previous to noon, and by evening it had calmed down a good deal. It brought a lot of shingle up to the cant of the breakwater, and carried a great quantity over the mole into the harbour, near the end of the main wharf, the hank at this point lying visible at low tide. This will be easily removed by the dredge. The sea banked up the waters of the Washdyke lagoon, and caused the new railway embankment to subside, delaying the train a little. The embankment was repaired, but was in some danger again as the tide rose in the afternoon.

Timaru Herald, 29 December 1887, Page 2
A tremendous mass of stone has been put down in front of the cliffs adjoining the wreck of the Benvenue, and this stone should effectively protect the cliff. Strangely enough the heavy seas are carrying away masses of the cliff to southward of. Splashing Point, and the beach there is so denuded of rocks and shingle as to expose to view the original bottom of the Waimataitai lagoon, which at one time had a northern outlet close by the cliff. A large number of pieces of old driftwood have also been washed out by the sea.

Timaru Herald 28 May 1892 Page 2
A heavy southerly ground-swell was rolling along the coast yesterday got up sometime during the night. It evidently came a long distance, the rollers being long and regular with wide flat troughs between them.

Timaru Herald, 13 September 1893, Page 2
A considerable sea was running yesterday; at low tide in the morning the bay was covered with breakers. At high tide in the afternoon the breakwater was washed from end to end, and the heavy sea was breaking very high on Dashing Rocks. Rain fell lightly during the day, and in the evening we learn that the Temuka river was very much flooded yesterday, and that the Opihi was rising.

Star 7 July 1896, Page 2 HEAVY SEA AT TIMARU.
The swell rolling into the roadstead increased during Friday night, says the Herald, and became higher than it had been before. A quantity of shingle was washed over the fence on to the breakwater and under the wharf; a full-sized concrete block, which had peen placed on a low one on the parapet shelf, was driven off and landed on the crane tracks and the surf carried some shingle to the top of the mound piled up by the great sea of July last year. The latter fact indicates the height and force of the seas, at their highest. Volumes of water poured over the outer arm, and sent the waves across the harbour to the old baths corner, while the range set up by the waves crossing the entrance was very strong.

North Otago Times, 15 May 1899, Page 2 Timaru, May 14.
An immense southerly sea sprang up on Saturday afternoon, and caused a fatality. At 4.30 a block shifted on the parapet of the break water, and several men employed on the works went to the end of the wharf, to see it. R. Catlow, a man in the prime of life, was a few yards ahead of the others, and was standing by the rail at the end of the wharf, when a sea broke on the breakwater and carried him into the harbor. Boats were out a few minutes after, but he was seen once only, and they failed to recover him. Catlow was a married man, with four children, and was a valued workman. The body has not, at 5 p m. today, been recovered. The sea is still running heavily. [possible Blackburn Catlow, aged 38]

Timaru Herald, 19 July 1900, Page 2
An old-fashioned southerly buster sprung up during Tuesday night and continued all day, but being well off the land no rain fell here. The sea horizon looked very dirty all day. A considerable sea got up, and it became heavier, last night, as Nuggets and Bluff reported heavy sea at 9 a.m. The wind was southerly nearly all over the colony at that time.  

Ashburton Guardian, 4 January 1905, Page 3 HEAVY SEA AT TIMARU.
Timaru harbour was visited yesterday by what some of the oldest identities consider the heaviest sea since 1882. The sea has again done considerable damage to the eastern extension, this time seven bays, or 175 feet of the staging having disappeared. From a spectacular point of view the sea was a grand sight. Its power was, however, too great for the staging, with insufficient protection from the stone work. The wall itself is undamaged, and it is standing the full force of the phenomenal sea admirably. The tide, which was about at the full shortly before 1 p.m., was an exceptionally high one, and in Caroline Bay it reached right up to the stone wall built to protect the new promenade constructed by connection with the beautifying of the bay. It also washed up and around the new rotunda. So far as could be learned no damage was done in the bay.


Band Stand. Caroline Bay looking north.

Caroline Bay 1976 - note the Port Loop Road.

Caroline Bay from Benvenue Cliffs. Tanner Bros. Postcard

Rough sea near Timaru.

Lure of the Sea, by J. L. Patterson

There's the force of a world, at its primal strength,
In these rollers long and green;
As they thunder along in their measureless might,
And their majesty serene.

Taranaki Herald, 15 August 1883, Page 2
The sea was particularly heavy along the Timaru coast last week. The dashing of the waves against the rocks caused a loud, intermittent, booming sound in that town, exactly resembling the firing of heavy cannon at a distance of a few miles. This is the grandiloquous style the Timaru Herald describes it " Is was a fierce bombardment of the Dashing Rocks by Neptune's artillery, and such was the force of the waves that Le Cren's Terrace perceptibly trembled under the shock, causing the windows of the houses to rattle in their casements."


Caroline Bay 1st January 2009

Caroline Bay Jan. 10 2009

Caroline Bay, 1st March 2009 

Ice plant (The Southern Mesembryanthemum) (Mesembryanthemum australe) abundant on coastal rocks, prostrate, rooting at nodes, leaves united at base 1 in to 3in ling, thick, fleshy, shining. Flower stems short and thick, flowers with spreading petals, in to 1in.  across. Called by the earlier colonists pig's faces or ice plant. Maori name "Horokaka" Ref.  Plants on NZ,  by Laing, 1957.

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project