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Kiwi towns

What’s so great about Waimate, what to do

  • 3 minutes

Canterbury, South Island

Best things to do in South Canterbury

Waimate there are plenty of things to do. Waimate is a short detour off state highway 1 where visitors get to explore a classic South Island rural town. The robust agricultural economy supports a treasure house of heritage sites from Maori rock art to Edwardian buildings. The outdoors has wetland bird life, a ecosancutary, walking trails to New Zealand’s white horse monument and mountain bike trails. The Australian Bennett wallaby is a visitor highlight with a chance to handfeed orphaned baby joeys.

Te Waimate chapel exterior
Te Waimate chapel exterior

What to do, highlights in Waimate

  • Edwardian architecture, historic churchs and settler rural farming buildings create a heritage trail worth a detour
  • Australian wallabies have made themselves at home with offering visitors an opportunity to get up close and personal with the wallaby
  • Outdoors from walks on the White Horse track, to sacred Maori rock art and by braided rivers
  • Maori Rock Art

Wetlands, Lake Wainono presents opportunities to explore natural spaces where birds flourish. There is a local favourite golf course, braided rivers for fishing. Local tour operators will helicopter guests to secluded hunting lodges and views of the Southern Alps. The town has a rich historical record dating back 800 years.

Best time to go in Waimate

  • Early spring to late summer

Waimate’s slogan

  • Small town, big heart

Waimate’s mascot

  • A white horse monument on the Hunters Hills. A reminder of the Clydesdales that were instrumental in hauling massive logging wagons. The mascot is constructed of concrete slabs and is 18m high and 14.6m long.
Te Waimate Mission interior, NZ
Te Waimate Mission interior, NZ
St Augustine's Church in Waimate, New Zealand
St Augustine's Church in Waimate, New Zealand

Waimate’s fame

  • Dr Margaret Cruickshank New Zealand’s first practising female doctor
  • Jeanie Collier first woman to own land in New Zealand
  • Bennett Wallabies introduced Australian natives now running wild in the countryside
  • Michael Studholme was a pastoralist who interacted with local chief Te Huruhuru
  • Te Huruhuru’s life encompassed Maori tribal warfare, the emergence of the European settler movement in the South Island and the fundamental changes in culture that resulted
  • Dr Margaret Cruickshank first female doctor practitioner in NZ.

Waimate’s notoriety

  • In 1967 the rural community witnessed the eventual trial of John Alexander Ramsey for the murder of Gillian Margaret Thompson. Ramsay, at his trial in the Supreme Court, Timaru, denied intending to kill Gillian Thompson, but was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Public interest was enormous with quenues forming waiting to obtain seats in the public gallery. Some people bringing their lunches to eat outside during adjournments.

Festivals in Waimate

  • South Canterbury stalwart — A&P show
  • Waimate 50 (motorsport for 1950’s vehicles)
  • Strawberry Fare (October)
  • Rodeo (December)
  • Edwardian Heritage Group Weekend (March)
@Waimate Edwardian Heritage Group
@Waimate Edwardian Heritage Group
Waimate White Horse lookout seat to take in sunset view
Waimate White Horse lookout seat to take in sunset view, NZ

Where to take the best selfie in Waimate

  • Panormaic white horse lookout
  • Waimate sign for the wallabies ‘Hop in for a visit’
  • Welcome to Waimate greeting complete with Kia Ora and Wallaby
  • Waimate Rugby Club street art

What to do with kids in Waimate

  • EnkleDooVery Korna wallaby park with an opportunity to interact with some Aussie natives
  • Victoria Park with its playground, extensive plantings and plenty of space to be a kid
  • Kelsey’s Bush Farmyard Holiday Park

Waimate’s social media

Waimate wallabies, an instagram favourite
Waimate wallaby

Nearby Waimate

  • Ted’s Bottle, 1940 unopened. Safely stored behind the bar of the Waihao Forks Hotel since World War II. The bottle was left there by Private Ted d’Auvergne when he set off for war in January 1940. He told the publican he would drink it when he got back, however he was killed in action in Crete in 1941. The bottle remains as a unique memorial to Ted, and all the young New Zealanders who lost their lives, thousands of miles from home in WW2. Location Waihao Forks Hotel, SH82.
Te Waimate Mission, New Zealand

What keeps Waimate ticking?

  • Agribusiness, dairying, sheep and beef farming, berry production and even a winery. Visitors are welcome but not essential for the local economy.

Population in Waimate

  • 8,240 (2020)

Weather in Waimate

Who turned up and named Waimate?

  • Seasonal hunting camp known as Te Waimatemate, meaning slowly moving waters. In the nineteenth century timber became the mainstay with saw milling dominating the landscape. The town of Waimate grew from these beginnings.

Judgment on Waimate

  • The secret is out, South Canterbury Waimate is a great place to find ‘real kiwis’ including some Aussie imports.

Every town adds to the richness of things to do and see. For more details about what to do nearby Waimate check out Things To Do In Canterbury § Places to Visit, Activities & Sightseeing.

Te Waimate chapel alter
Te Waimate chapel alter

Waimate location

  • Situated between Christchurch and Dunedin and one of the gateways to the MacKenzie district Waimate is an ideal hub to explore South Canterbury

What to do nearby Waimate, Canterbury?

Waimate is nearby RangioraAmberleyOxford and Springfield (selfie heaven with its massive concrete pink doughnut).


Want to go camping in Waimate check out 9 Hurunui campsites & budget accommodation ideas.



Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.

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