Geraldine is a town in the Canterbury region on the South Island of New Zealand. It is about 140 km south of Christchurch, and inland from Timaru, which is 35 kilometres to the south. Geraldine has a country village atmosphere, with majestic old forests, early settlers cottages and little arts and crafts corners.The Geraldine area started to be settled by Europeans in the 1840s and it was in 1854 that Samuel Hewlings built the first bark hut in Talbot Street. He married a Māori, Nga Hei, and the totara tree that he planted to mark the birth of his daughter still stands. Sheep runs were quickly established in the area together with pit saw milling of the native bush. When the bush had 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, the Irishman Edward FitzGerald. The name was finally changed to Geraldine, which was the FitzGeralds' 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 growing all the time and many of these talented people, for example Austen Deans and John Badcock, have their work on sale in the town itself or from nearby studios. Some of the creations come in edible form too – Geraldine’s cheesemaker, chocolatier and the internationally recognised Barker's fruit products all have outlets in the town. Also on display in a local shop is a recreation of the Bayeux Tapestry. It is at approximately half scale.A short drive from Geraldine is Peel Forest. This is a very precious and extensive podocarp forest with abundant birdlife, 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. It is not difficult to see why The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson chose this superb valley as an important location in his films.Geraldine is in the heart of a prosperous farming area with dairy cows, sheep, cattle, deer, cropping and fruit growing in abundance. Almost 3,500 people live in the town and its surroundings areas. It is the headquarters for the nearby state forests and has modern shopping amenities such as a book shop, hardware shop, dairies and many more.