On the South Island of New Zealand, large piedmont glaciers descended from an ice cap on the Southern Alps onto the coastal plain of the West Coast during the late Pleistocene. The series of moraine belts and outwash plains left by the Taramakau glacier are used as a type section for interpreting the glacial geology and timing of major climatic events of New Zealand and also as a benchmark for comparison with the wider Southern Hemisphere. In this paper we review the chronology of advances by the Taramakau glacier during the last or Otira Glaciation using a combination of exposure dating using the cosmogenic nuclides10Be and36Cl, and tephrochronology. We document three distinct glacial maxima, represented by the Loopline, Larrikins and Moana Formations, separated by brief interstadials. We find that the Loopline Formation, originally attributed to Oxygen Isotope Chronozone 4, is much younger than previously thought, with an advance culminating around 24,900±800yr. The widespread late Pleistocene Kawakawa/Oruanui tephra stratigraphically lies immediately above it. This Formation has the same age previously attributed to the older part of the Larrikins Formation. Dating of the Larrikins Formation demonstrates there is no longer a basis for subdividing it into older and younger phases with an advance lasting about 1000 years between 20,800±500 to 20,000±400yr. The Moana Formation represents the deposits of the last major advance of ice at 17,300±500yr and is younger than expected based on limited previous dating. The timing of major piedmont glaciation is restricted to between ~25,000 and 17,000yr and this interval corresponds to a time of regionally cold sea surface temperatures, expansion of grasslands at the expense of forest on South Island, and hemisphere wide glaciation. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.