Nestled beneath the towering Southern Alps, there's a lot to love about Geraldine. Our town and surrounding district is a must visit destination packed with activities and adventures for the whole family. Walk, bike, eat, drink, shop, climb, play, work, stay - there's something for everyone. Enjoy the unique country village atmosphere and admire the grandeur of the many historical buildings and museums.
Take time to stroll the beautiful totara forests and walkways, many of them within walking distance of the township, like Talbot Forest on the hills above the town. The domain, with its lovely, extensive rose gardens is the ideal place to bring out the picnic.
A short drive from Geraldine is Peel Forest. This is a very precious and extensive podocarp forest with abundant bird life and with many reminders of the region's early European pioneers. Follow the road beside the Rangitata River (a world class white water rafting and salmon fishing river, which also provides vital irrigation to surrounding districts) into the Upper Rangitata River Valley for some of the most spectacular alpine and high country scenery in New Zealand.
At the feet of the Four Peaks stands the settlement of Woodbury, a quiet little village with a pretty church and old library. The village sits between the Waihi and Orari rivers, whose gorges lie further into the hills and offer camping and tramping.
The area to become known as Geraldine was discovered in the 1840s, but it wasn't until 1854 that Samual Hewlings built the first bark hut in Talbot Street. He married a Maori woman Nga Hei, and the totara tree which he planted to mark the birth of his daughter still stands on the site today in Talbot Street, opposite the police station .
Sheep were quickly established in the area, together with the pit saw milling of the native bush. When the bush has been cleared, wheat crops were grown across the plains. Originally called Talbot Forest, Geraldine was renamed Fitzgerald in 1857 after the first superintendent of Canterbury, an Irishman, Edward Fitzgerald. The name was finally changed to Geraldine which was Fitzgerald's family name in Ireland.
Geraldine became a Town Board in 1884 and a Borough in 1905. It was incorporated in the Ashburton electorate in 1908, when its hotels were closed. It remained "dry" until 1950, when the Geraldine Licensing Trust Hotel opened.
Geraldine’s reputation as a home to gifted artists and artisans is well established and many of these talented people, for example John Badcock and daughter Susan, have their work on sale in the town itself or from nearby studios. Some of the creations come in edible form too – Geraldine’s cheese maker, chocolatier and the internationally recognised Barker's fruit products all have outlets in the town.