Timaru buzzes with cruise ship visitors
The centre of Timaru was awash with hundreds of tourists on Monday morning after the latest cruise ship to visit docked at the port.
The Maasdam, operated by cruise company Holland America Line, has brought about 1250 passengers and 600 crew.
Many got onto a shuttle bus from the port and headed straight for the town's Information Centre.
Manager Courtney Molloy said hundreds of people had been through the centre from as early as 7.30am.
"I don't actually think I have seen it as busy as this. Many of them are interested in staying in Timaru. A lot of them are getting on the local buses.
"I think probably the weather is helping a lot. They had a rainy day in Dunedin yesterday. They are all really lovely and I think they are just happy to see the sun."
Molloy said that almost every shuttle bus which had arrived at the centre had been full.
People had also been busy using the free internet at the centre to do their own research on what to do and see, she said.
Te Ana Maori Rock Art Centre curator Amanda Symon said the most popular places people had been talking about visiting had been St Mary's Church and the museum.
Canadian couple Chris and Georgia Andrews, from British Columbia, said they had been in town since around 8am.
"We are going to the library, the museum and the church. We have already had a good coffee at 2 Stags."
The couple said they were on their second cruise trip to New Zealand, but it was their first time in Timaru and they had been impressed by what they had seen.
"We like being able to ride straight into town straight off the ship, without any long bus rides. It's a really pretty little town."
Fellow passengers Americans Pat and Ray Cardillo, from New York State, said they were thankful to see some sunshine in Timaru. The last two days have been very wet.
"We went to the Information Centre. The staff there were fabulous."
The couple said they were heading to the museum and the church before taking a walk along the beach and cliffs.
Church chairman vestry Ray Bennett said it had been a "very big day" for the church.
"It looks like upwards of 500 or more have gone through the church, which is probably the biggest crowd we have ever had for something like this."
They had local pianist Peter McMullan playing the piano in two, one-hour slots during the morning, before Adrian Mann, the maker of the 5.7-metre piano - the biggest in the world - rattled off a few tunes as well.
2 Stags cafe owner Ash Manson said the cruise ship had been "fantastic".
He had both cruise passengers and members of the crew through the cafe during the morning.
"They have all been really lovely and friendly, and they have given really good feedback about Timaru. One older couple said it had been their favourite town they'd stopped at so far."