Centennial Park, Timaru - full of trails and ducks

In your own back yard. You will see cabbage trees, toi-tois, flax, bracken, cross a few footbridges; enjoy a manmade duck pond with mallard and domestic ducks. Also swings, slides for the kids, picnic tables, bike tracks. Gardeners don't just like to dig big holes, they also like to fill them and holes don't come much bigger than an abandoned quarry. The Bowker Gateway, opened in 1940, on Otipua Road is an entrance to Centennial Park and the exit is beside the Claremont Road Bridge on Claremont Road. It is a lovely walk or drive.  The reserve includes a 1½ hour walk, 3.5 km walkway, following the wooded valley of the Otipua Creek.  Many locals still know it by the Scenic Reserve or The Scenic. On the west of the town centre, take Church St., past St. Mary's, up to the intersection of Otipua Rd and go through the Bowker Gateway, down the zig-zag, Quarry Rd, one-way since 2013, and drive to the lake - car park, and start to walk. An old railway line used to take the basalt boulders from the quarry to the harbour breakwater. The park has a wide variety of exotic and native trees. There is a planting programme part of the Tu Kakariki tree planting programme. New Zealand is a tree country.

Photo taken April 2014 with autumn colours just starting to appear.

You don't need a machine to exercise.


Scenic drive 2015
Centennial Park
Otipua Creek Walkway

The Otipua Wetland Charitable Trust was established in 1996, after it was suggested that the margins of Saltwater Creek, which were a muddy eyesore, could do with some attention. The idea was popular with Timaru locals, who suggested that the 20 hectares of nearby farmland also be included in the development. A small group of volunteers raised the $50,000 needed to buy the farmland. They applied for the appropriate consents, had the site surveyed and fenced and then started planting trees. Since those beginnings the Otipua Wetland Charitable Trust has raised almost $500,000 towards the restoration of the wetland, has planted between 60,000 and 70,000 trees and has developed around three kilometres of walking tracks. 
Saltwater Creek Walkway
View the old reservoirs on Brookfield Hill above Centennial Park, last used in 1974. Timaru's first town water supply, was developed in the late 1870s and early 1880s and saw water fed from the original Pareora dam through a series of races and tunnels to a bluestone-lined reservoir above Centennial Park.

Timaru Herald, 5 May 1875, Page 2 THE WATER RACE.
On Saturday, April 10, Mr Geo. Cliff the Mayor, and Councillor, Padget, accompanied by Mr Fraser the contractor, Mr Williamson the engineer, Mr Lough the Town Clerk, and a representative of the Press inspected the Timaru-Pareora water race. The party- of whom two were on horseback, and the rest in a two-horse buggy left town at about noon, and followed the line of the race till reaching Mr D. Fyfe's on the Otipua Creek. At this point a halt was made in order, to see the extensive iron flume, which is suspended from one side of the creek to the other. ... From the flume the race extends through Mr D. Fyfe's and Mr T. W. Fyfe's farms, and along the southern side of the road leading from the Otipua Creek to the Rev Mr Foster's farm. At this farm it branches off and is carried down the road extending to the western end of North-street. The reservoir is situated on Mr Landsborough's land, on the western bank of the Otipua Creek, at the point of the race about one mile to the southward of of where the iron fluming which we have alluded to crosses the gully. The distance from the reservoir to the town is abut two miles. The reservoir, which will be finished as regards the excavation in about ten days, is 437 ft long on the top and 130 ft wide) 21ft 6in deep, and 370 ft long on bottom the and 86ft wide. Its holding capacity is 5,000,000 gallons, sufficient to supply a town containing-ten times the population of Timaru. ..

Timaru Herald 30/04/2013
The Timaru Harbour Board once owned much of the land at Centennial Park, which was worked as a quarry to provide a source of harbour-protection rock for the development of the Port of Timaru. Road bridges and and railroads were built for moving the quarried rock out of the reserve by railway lines on Wai-iti Rd, Otipua Rd and James St to reach their destination at the port.  During 1934-35 negotiations took place between the Timaru Harbour Board, representative of the estate of J King, and the Timaru Borough Council to acquire land for a reserve in the western sector of the borough. The land lay from Claremont Rd stretching east to the end of Quarry Rd. About 32 hectares was bought for the equivalent of $1060. However, the harbour board maintained its right to quarry in the reserve until 1975. The plan also provided for coin-operated barbecues, a suspension bridge over the lake, a walkway across the dam and swings, slides and seating, plus extensive landscaping and plantings. In 1938 it was formally opened and named the Scenic Reserve; however, by 1940 it had been renamed Centennial Park marking the centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. The park would not be what it is today if it was not for the initiative of a Timaru service club, Round Table 48.  In early 1988 the club launched a fundraising project with the aim of damming the Otipua Creek that flowed through the park to create a lake and recreational areas. The plan also provided for coin-operated barbecues, a suspension bridge over the lake, a walkway across the dam and swings, slides and seating, plus extensive landscaping and plantings. With $90,000 having been raised by the Round Table and other service clubs, work was able to start in 1990 on the dam to create an 800-metre-long lake. The following year the lake was filled in May and work began on planting 7000 trees around the area.

Timaru Herald, 31 December 1904, Page 3
The Harbour Board's quarry has been gradually extended up Wai-iti creek; until he furthermost cranes are at work within view from the Claremont road bridge, and the pioneer workmen of future extensions of the railway have begun clearing a road-bed beside the last exposure of rock in the lease, this being opposite of Fyfe's quarry and its upper end quite near the Claremont end. The four cranes are now at work at two spots a considerable distance apart. Two of them in the near side of the back shunt, have got a nice face of good stone to work at, but there is not a great deal left at this point. The uppermost pair have a considerable area stripped, and part of the face is about 50ft high. There has been some rather heavy stripping on parts of it, one comer running to as much 18ft. the deepest yet done. The rock deposit is very uneven, and its outward appearance is frequently deceptive. More than once, the surface when stripped has promised a good quarry, and it turned out that there was only a layer of big stones on top, covering lower streams of small rubbishy stuff. A peculiarity in the surface of the rock is a sort of basin-like hollow, sometimes many yards across and several feet deep, and filled with a tough dark coloured, waxy clay. These "potholes," as the quarrymen call them, are always a surface indication of loose, dirty, and rubbishy rubble below. The uppermost face towards which the men are now working, appears to be of good-sized stone, and it is expected to be between 30 and 40ft high. Fyfe's quarry, across the narrow creek is the best face and the most solid rock to be seen near Timaru and it will be most satisfactory if the Harbour Board's quarry proves to be of the same nature. The upper end of the exposed face, on the Board's side of the creek is certainly different and inferior, being a huge nest of rotten stuff, which is supposed to be "cooked" but not melted rock. As this stuff shows in the creek above the bridge, it may be that the stream of lava which made Fyfe's good quarry crossed the creek line below, in which case the Harbour Board will get the benefit of it. The work at the quarry appears to be carried on in a most methodical manner and with an alteration in the method of blasting which used to be advocated. Formerly, the blasts used to be made with long tunnels, to shake a large area of rock. Shorter tunnels are now made, and smaller quantities of rock are more thoroughly shaken apart. The quarry gully now looks very pretty in its summer dress of green grass and wild flowers on the sunny side, and thick gorse and broom wastes on the other, and nature has already almost hidden beneath vegetation the ugly scars made by the earlier stages of the quarrying work. A good deal of the rubbishy rock left behind seems to be rapidly disintegrating into soil, and the loose dirt of the quarry grows some fine specimens of Scotch thistle and other weeds, and gorse and broom flourish in it.

Timaru Herald, 28 March 1914, Page 9 TIMARU HARBOUR BOARD.
The Resident Engineer reported that: Extension of Eastern Mole, 450 ft. Fairly good headway is being made with this work. The staging is now out 125 feet. The first stone was tipped on the 10th instant and up to date 1073 tons have been deposited in the 450 ft. extension. In the raising of the wall at the root of the Eastern Extension mole 5848 tons have been deposited, and with 258 tons on trucks in the ready for tipping, the total quantity sent down from the quarry to date is 7179 tons. He had taken the levels, etc., for extending the train to Fyfe's quarry on the opposite side of the creek.

The railway line.
Stone quarried between 1888 and 1890 was transported by tram via Wai-iti Rd to build the North Mole.
The Otipua Rd tramway was used in the 1930s or 1940s to repair the East breakwater.
The Gleniti Quarries were reopened in 1955 to stockpile 30,000 tons of rock. A weighbridge was put into operation and 838,149 tons rock registered up to Feb, 1957. Ref. Gillespie. pg 162

Several men from King's Quarries, in 1911, at the northwestern end of Centennial Park have loaded several tipping wagons with rock bound for Timaru Harbour. The white posts in the background borders the Claremont Rd.

Two steam cranes and several men were employed in Fyfe's Quarry in Centennial Park during 1888-1890, extracting rock for the North Mole of Timaru Harbour, which was built by Palliser and Jones contractors. Wagons.


Press, 20 February 1922, Page 6
Mr David Fyfe, who died at Glen-iti, South Canterbury, last week, [buried 16th] was a native of Dundee, where he was born in 1833. As a young man he went to Canada and spent some years there. On the way back to Scotland he was one of the survivors of the wreck of the Mailsteam Canada in the Strait of Belle Isle. The survivors were picked up by a French fishing smack, which landed them at a fishing post. Provisions were short, and the refugees were rationed one biscuit and half a glass of stale water a day. Eventually they were landed in Newfoundland. Mr Fyfe still retained a leather-bound Bible that was given to him by the Bishop of Newfoundland in 1861. In 1862 he came to New Zealand, landing at Christchurch. Just then the Dunstan rush excited both old and new colonists, and he went to Dunedin by boat on the way to Dunstan. In the meantime the Molyneux River had risen so that it was useless to stay there. A party of disappointed men tramped back through Gabriel's Gully and Dunedin to Christchurch. One of their camping places—they had gone up Otipua Creek to get sweet water— was a piece of land that appealed to Mr Fyfe, and four years later he went down from Christchurch and bought it from the Government, and on this property he made good as a farmer and brought up a family. He married in 1868, the wedding being one of the earliest celebrated by Rev. George Barclay. Mr Fyfe is survived by his widow, two daughters, and three sons. The Misses M.D. and and O.
[sic] Fyfe live with their mother at Glen-iti. The sons are Mr D. J. Fyfe, Wellington, A. C. Fyfe, Christchurch, and W. Fyfe. Wairarapa.

Timaru Herald, 2 December 1871, Page 2 Birth
Dec. 1, at Tranent Cottage, Otipua Creek, the wife of David Fyfe of a son — stillborn.

David Fyfe arrived on the Mystery in Lyttelton 7 Jan. 1862. He was single, a farm labourer, from Forfarshie. David Fyfe married Elizabeth KIRKWOOD in 1867.  Children of Elizabeth Spiers Fyfe (d. 1922 aged 76) and David FYFE:
1873 Fyfe Margaret Davis m. 1930 to John Randle
1874 Fyfe David James
1876 Fyfe Archibald Cecil d.1955 aged 79
1877 Fyfe William Arthur
1880 Fyfe Andrew Gibson d. aged 2w.
1887 Fyfe Harry Ladbrooke d. aged 6m in August
1886 Fyfe Mary Jane d. 1951 aged 65

David Fyfe, of Gleniti, farmer, born in Dundee, Scotland. Died 13 Feb. 1922. Will 1922, online. To my daughters the said Margaret Davis Fyfe and Mary Jane Fyfe, both of Gleniti, spinsters, in equal shares all that piece of land situate at Gleniti aforesaid containing eight acres more or less with the brick cottage and wooden stables thereon and marked No 2 on the plan drawn hereon.

Evening Post, 27 May 1943, Page 3 MR. D. J. FYFE  aged 68
The death occurred recently of Mr. David James Fyfe, who had been engaged in the silk trade in various parts of New Zealand for over half a century. Born in Gleniti, Timaru, in 1874 Mr. Fyfe received his early training in Timaru and Dunedin, later going to England for two years to gain business experience. On his return he was employed by Messrs. Kirkcaldie and Stains, Ltd., first in Napier and later in Wellington, until he went into business on his own account in 1927. During his younger days he was a keen member of the Dunedin Shakespeare Club, and for many years was associated with the Artillery Volunteers. Of recent years he had been a member of the Kelburn Bowling Club. He is survived by his wife and four children.

Timaru Herald, 27 June 1903, Page 4
A pleasant social gathering was held in the Wai-iti schoolroom last evening, to bid farewell to Miss Fyfe, who, after six years service as teacher in that school, is now leaving to take up a position in the Waimataitai school. Miss K. Matheson read and presented an address from the past and present pupils of the school, and handed to Miss Fyfe a beautiful diamond ring as a token of the esteem and love the pupils and their parents feel towards that lady. Miss Fyfe had occupied her position in the school for more than six years; previously to that she was a pupil teacher, so that her whole service extended over quite ten years.

Plaques  & Signs

Centennial Park Lake Development - A community and combined service clubs project opened 6 November 1994 by the Mayor Wynne Raymond, J.P. Concept -Round Table No. 48.
In honour of Dr. Richard St Barbe Baker (1889 - 1992) conservationists, author, founder Men of the Trees.
Steam trains hauling rock from these quarries to the Timaru harbour, stopped at this point to replenish their water supplies. From here they travelled via Quarry Rd, Otipua Rd, and James St. and Domain Ave, to the harbour.
Conical mounds visible on the site of the track were created when soil and clay overburden was removed during the quarrying to allow access to the rock beneath.
Otipua Creek Walkway - Quarry Rd entry / exit to Coonoor Rd, 15 min.
D.J. Fyfe's Quarries
Miss Fyfe's Quarry 1941, 1955-58
Timaru Harbour Board Quarry 1912

The pine trees are looking old. An old wheeled hut still there in April 2014.

A lot of work has been done to turn the quarry into a passive recreational area but there is still maintenance and noxious weeds. Saw gorse and broom blooming in April 2014.
Gives you an idea what type of rocks were in the quarry.

What a beautiful place to take a dog off leash and let them explore. It will be their highlight of the day.

I can see the creek can flood, has been up higher. Toi-toi abounds.

Fungi on soil and wood in autumn 2014. Scarlet flycaps [Amanita muscaria] is often found under pine trees and are toxic.


North Otago Times, 11 November 1891, Page 4
The bone of a small species of Moa, found two years ago under it lava stream at Timaru, are still older and probably upper miocene.

Timaru Herald, 28 September 1894, Page 2
As some of the Borough Council's men were trimming up the footpath on Forth street at the foot of the bank cutting below St Mary's Church they came across a moa's leg bone m the solid clay. The bone was nearly at the footpath level, or twelve feet below the original ground surface. It was of good size, but not a large one as moa bones go, As usual with bones found m the clay it is in a soft cheesy condition

There is a variety of seating

T.W. Fyfe
Any relation to David Fyfe?

Thomas Webster Fyfe, 26, a mechanic from Forfarshire and Margaret, 25, arrived on the Echunga to Timaru on 16 Dec. 1862. Margaret Craigie Fyfe died 1st Oct. 1863, aged 28, born 1836. He married to Jane Craigie in 1864 and they had 12 children.  Jane had also came out on the Echunga with her sister. Her brother, James Craigie, was mayor of Timaru from 1902 to 1912. Thomas was a painter living at 9 Heaton St. and later moved to the area what is now Barnes St, the property neighbouring David Fyfe on Otipua Creek.  Their son, T.C. Fyfe, was a mountain guide at the Hermitage, and took part in the first ascent of Mt. Cook on Christmas Day 1894. T.W. Fyfe (1836 - 12 June 1926). Jane Craigie Fyfe (1847 -1921) Jane and Thomas Webster FYFE children:
1865 Fyfe Margaret Craigie
1867 Fyfe Jane Pareora d. Aug. 7th 1945
1868 Fyfe Isabella b. 1 April at Heaton St. m. Wm Corbert in 1906. She d. Aug. 10 1912.
1870 Fyfe Thomas Camperdown b. 23 June. On Christmas Day in 1884 climbed Mt. Cook with two others. d. 1947
1872 Fyfe Jessie d. 28 June 1945
1874 Fyfe Evelyn b. 8 Dec. D. Nov. 1946.
1877 Fyfe William Mcfarland buried at Onehunga 1925
1879 Fyfe Minnie Wai-iti
1881 Fyfe Alfred James b. 24 May at at Balgay, Wai-iti, 13 acres in two paddocks  in 1898
1883 Fyfe Charles Marshall d. in Australia May 1945
1888 Fyfe Christopher Hume

Timaru Herald, 22 May 1914, Page 9
The house which was destroyed  by fire at Gleniti on Wednesday night belonged to Mr T. W. Fyfe, and was occupied by Mr H. H. Leathwick. Mr and Mrs Leathwick were in Timaru when the fire occurred, and there is no clue as to how it started. They knew nothing of it until they returned home to find their place in ruins. Mr Bernard Tripp who lives opposite, was the first to notice, the fire, and he took Mr Leathwick and family to his home for the night.


James Craigie, was mayor of Timaru from 1902 to 1912 and Member of Parliament for Timaru 1908 - 1922. He was a brother to Jane, 17, and Jessie Craigie, 21, dairymaids from Forfarshire when they arrived in Timaru in December 1862 on the Echunga. James Craigie born in Perthshire, Scotland, in Sept. 1852 came to New Zealand when he was 17 years of age with his parents; Agnes MacFarlane Craigie (July 1809 -July 1893, aged 84) and James Craigie (Sept. 1812 -July 1934) from Forfarshire. They landed at Lyttelton 14 Nov. 1867 by the ship Glenmark as assisted immigrants. Craigie Ave in Timaru is name after him. Also onboard were his sisters Susan aged 19, Eliza aged 9 and Margaret aged 7.  James died Aug. 1935. Susan Craigie married James Selbie Sept. 20th 1878 at High St., Timaru.

Susan died 14 Nov. 1932, aged 86, and her husband James Selbie died 26 Jan. 1925. James Selbie from Berwickshire, Scotland had arrived on the Merope in 1870 with his parents John and Helen Lowrie Selbie. The family lived up Claremont  Rd.

1951. AA signpost at the intersection of Stafford St., Church St and Strathallan St.

 South CanterburyGenWeb Project