Geraldine Sculpture Trail

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Click here to see the Geraldine Nature and Sculpture Trail Plan.

Click here for the original vision for the project.


The planned Geraldine Sculpture Trail is a project of great significance to Geraldine and the District of Timaru.

While there are a small number of sculpture trails around New Zealand, most are located in the North Island, privately owned, and have limited access.  The trail being developed in Geraldine will be completely unique, with free access for all, while being an experience of the highest quality and artistic merit.

This concept is much wider than just a sculpture trail, it will offer new ways for residents and visitors to interact with the landscape, art, history, and culture of the area.  As it will be possible to experience the trail at different times of the day and night, each visit will be different from the last and each encounter will be fresh and interesting.

Overarching Principles:

In developing the plan, the project group has also created a set of guiding principles which will be a common thread throughout the project:

Accessibility:  When developing all parts of the trail, consideration will be given to ensuring good levels of accessibility.  From the type of surface covering used on the trail, to selection of seating and furniture styles, through to gradients on ramps, the project group will engage professional advice and accepted industry standards to make as much of the trail as accessible as possible.

That said, it is acknowledged that there will be some areas where it is not possible to accommodate everyone, such as Talbot Forest where the trails include steps and routes of vertical elevation.

Sustainability:  The project team is firmly committed to procuring locally sourced plants, materials, labour, and other resources as much as is practically possible.  This practice is already firmly embedded in the project ethos.

Environment:  The project is fully committed to protecting and preserving Geraldine’s natural environment, including (but not limited to) the bat population and dark skies, by taking steps to ensure the effect of lighting and other factors are addressed.

Approvals:  The Project group is a cross-organisational group which includes representatives from the Timaru District Council, Geraldine Community Board, DOC, and Geraldine Licensing Trust.  All relevant legislation, regulations, consultation requirements etc. will be adhered to in the development of the trail and all correct permissions secured to undertake any developments proposed.

The Trail:

Encompassing flowing water, sparkling sunlight, native forest, birdsong, vistas of inspiring artwork and stories of local history, culture and nature, the Geraldine Nature and Sculpture Trail will be free, accessible to all and totally unique to New Zealand.

The vision for the trail is to take the naturally beautiful templates which already exist separately as the Waihi River trail, Talbot Forest Walks and Geraldine Domain, plus the town centre, to create an integrated experience which spans nature, the arts, history, and culture to tell the story of Geraldine and its people.

While sculpture will be a key medium, there may be opportunities to feature other forms of art along the trail to create a multi-sensory experience.  Public art is designed to be robust in ways that private outdoor art need not be, so this will be a key underpinning of the selection of pieces for the trail.

Through the development and execution of a landscape plan, fully embracing locally occurring native biodiversity, the trail, with its stunning artworks, will become an outstanding attraction for domestic and international visitors, as well as a major community asset and source of great pride and enjoyment for locals.

The trail will consist of four interconnecting loops:

  • Reserve and River: Along the west side of the river from pedestrian bridge to road bridge, passing through Todd Park, crossing to the north side of the river via the road bridge, then travelling on the east side of the river along edge of Kennedy Park, returning to the pedestrian bridge.
  •  Town and River: From the pedestrian bridge, along south(west) side of river, through Rhododendron Dell to the Cenotaph and north back through town, returning to the footbridge.
  • Domain: Around Geraldine Domain, crossing over Talbot St to the proposed bike trail on the west side of the Waihi River stop bank, to the Cenotaph and then along Cox St Domain frontage, returning to Domain.
  • Talbot Forest: Talbot Forest walks and loop.

Each loop will be developed as a separate stage and may feature individual identities, while still being connected to a broader overarching design with integrated wayfinding, furniture and colour palette.

Talbot Forest, as a Department of Conservation (DOC) Scenic Reserve, is governed by statutory legislation and as such is different to the other proposed loops.  DOC is represented on the project group, offering valuable advice and information.  The project group believes that the natural beauty of Talbot Forest tells its own story and any proposed development there would be a light touch and in line with DOC requirements.


 In 2018, a public meeting was hosted by to discuss the concept of public art.  This meeting was held in response to many informal discussions around the community discussing the enhancement of the town through art and to embrace the artistic reputation Geraldine enjoys more actively.

At that meeting local businessman, Michael Barker, gave voice to a long-held idea in the community, the creation of a combined trail, to encompass the existing riverside trail and Talbot Forest and then follow a marked route through the centre of town.  Michael’s vision included the use of sculpture as a way to enhance and differentiate from trails in other places and as recognition of Geraldine’s artistic reputation. started working with Michael to socialise this idea around the community and discuss the concept with officers at the Timaru District Council (TDC).

In parallel, the Geraldine Community Board was working with the TDC to establish an agreement to govern the land management of the riverside trail, following a gap left after a former community group was no longer operating in the area.

In March 2020 MOUs (Memoranda of Understanding) for the riverside trail were finally confirmed between the TDC and the landowners, LINZ (Land Information New Zealand), and DOC.

Following the COVID-19 lockdown, funding became available via the Government’s Strategic Tourism Asset Protection Programme (STAPP) for the development of projects within in the Timaru District and the Trail concept was granted $75k towards the project.

A cross-organisational project group was formed, the Geraldine Sculpture Trail Group (GST), featuring members from the Geraldine Community Board, Geraldine Licensing Trust, DOC, Timaru District Council, to take the project forward.  There are also a range of key stakeholders in the project, including Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua,

The project operates under the umbrella of, with project managers enacting the project group’s strategy.

Steve Sullivan, recently retired from the Timaru District Council Parks and Recreation Unit, has a background in landscape development.  Steve is the Project Implementation Manager handling all operational aspects.

Following a robust selection process, Christchurch-based Rough & Milne Landscape Architects were selected to undertake the first phase of design, which included consultation with key stakeholders and idea development.  This resulted in an initial visionary concept plan for the trail, including a colour palette that references the local natural and built environments.  The plan was finalised in May 2021.

The next phase of planning was delayed slightly due to the end of May 2021 floods which wrought massive changes to the riverbanks along which parts of the trail are located.  These changes, along with some thinking that had come out of the original plan, saw the move away from the original single large trail concept to four interconnecting loops.  This shift would allow people to experience the trail in bite-sized chunks, as time and physical ability allowed, while at the same time having the option to complete the full trail.

Defining individual loops also allowed for effective staging of the project.  The Reserve and River Loop was selected as the first stage of the project.

Glasson Huxtable Landscape Architects, also Christchurch based, and specialists in implementation design, were then selected to undertake the 2nd phase of design.

Glasson Huxtable are the designers of the last Geraldine CBD landscape plan in the late 1990’s and more recently commissioned to undertake a detailed design plan for the Geraldine Domain, giving them a good understanding of the community and the need to integrate across all aspects of the town landscape.

The project has benefited greatly from having two excellent landscape architecture firms involved in the project, who have both had strong connections with and understanding of Geraldine.

Key elements of the design plan have been the recognition of the heritage of Geraldine and the cultural traditions and connections of the area, through local Arowhenua Rūnanga who represent those who hold mana whenua in the Timaru District.

Community Consultation:

Since its inception, many key Geraldine groups/organisations have been involved in the initial design phase of the Geraldine Nature and Sculpture Trail.

With a design plan available in September 2021, it was time for the Geraldine community to offer comment and feedback on a project which will enhance and define Geraldine for years to come.

Following an intensive 2-week consultation period, the Geraldine Sculpture Trail (GST) project group received a total of 34 submissions about the proposed design plan for the trail, with a total of 135 views on the website of the plans.  The project group thanks all those who took the time to make a submission and the many people that have already contributed to moving this exciting community project forward.

Each submission was reviewed individually by the project members and then discussed as a group to consider all aspects in relation to the plan and to formulate a response to each submitter.  Almost all submissions received were in favour and supportive of the design plan and the trail concept.

As expected, there were several common themes or topics, and this document will outline the Project Group’s response to the main points raised.

Please click here to review the common themes and the responses.

July 2022 Update:

Earthworks on the Reserves and River loop has just been completed and the trail is looking fantastic!  The next step is for the boardwalk ramp and river viewing platform to be costed, funded and installed.

Next Steps:

The Timaru District Council and Venture Timaru have already been strong supporters of and partners in the project, providing funds and resources.

The next stages will see applications to other funders and opportunities for the community to become involved, either through the provision to financial support or by supplying resources, such as labour, to support the development of the trail concept.

Donors for sculpture and art will also be sought.  The project group plans to secure a number of permanent pieces for the trail and to feature other temporary sculptures which would be for sale, thus ensuring an ever-changing vista along the trail and also income from the sale commission which would support ongoing maintenance and development.

If you would like to donate, please contact or 027 555 6524.