Best things to do in South Canterbury
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.
WHAT TO DO, HIGHLIGHTS
- 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.
- Situated between Christchurch and Dunedin and one of the gateways to the MacKenzie district Waimate is an ideal hub to explore South Canterbury
BEST TIME TO GO
- Early spring to late summer
- Small town, big heart
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- South Canterbury stalwart — A&P show
- Waimate 50 (motorsport for 1950’s vehicles)
- Strawberry Fare (October)
- Rodeo (December)
- Edwardian Heritage Group Weekend (March)
WHERE TO TAKE THE BEST SELFIE
- 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
- 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
- A superb Waimate Local Council website
- Art & Culture — Explore Waimate District
- Waimate Rock geocaching facebook page
- 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.
WHAT KEEPS THE PLACE TICKING?
- Agribusiness, dairying, sheep and beef farming, berry production and even a winery. Visitors are welcome but not essential for the local economy.
- 8,240 (2020)
WHO TURNED UP AND NAMED THE PLACE?
- 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.
- The secret is out, South Canterbury Waimate is a great place to find ‘real kiwis’ including some Aussie imports.
Unique journeys, personal adventures.