Waimate District - Centre of the South is ideally halfway between Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown.

This is a town that reflects the confidence the early European settlers felt in the fertile lands they began to develop in the 1850s. Its wide spacious streets, valued collection of Edwardian buildings, including several churches of historic importance, and beautiful parks and gardens create a relaxed friendly environment for both residents and visitors.

Nestled at the foot of the rolling Hunters Hills, Waimate is a classic New Zealand rural town. You'll find everything here, from unique Edwardian architecture to tranquil bush walks, fishing for quinnat salmon in the world renowned Waitaki River and the distinction of being home to New Zealand's largest wallabies.

This diverse area has an outstanding range of forest, mountain and alpine tracks, perfect for bushwalking or mountain biking. The Waitaki Lakes offer a multitude of opportunities for water-based recreation. This district can provide a peaceful atmosphere for a holiday and a range of activities, from heritage walks to farmyard visits or hunting.

Please click on below thumbnails to view image lightbox.


















Originally known as 'Te Waimatemate' (slow moving water,) Waimate was born from the meeting of Chief Te Huruhuru and Michael Studholme (first settler) in 1854. Large tracts of land were leased to run-holders, and over the latter 1870's seven sawmills were established in the Waimate Bush, processing pine, totara, rimu, matai and kahikatea, much of which was sent to the growing towns of Timaru and Oamaru. Disaster occurred in November 1878 when a devastating forest fire raged for eight days, destroying trees, bush, homes and sawmills. Over the years regeneration took place and forestry to this day plays a major role within the Waimate economy. A statue of a 'Bushman' together with interpretation board has recently been erected on the town's main street, and a long term community project will develop a working timber town, similar to that of Shantytown on the West Coast.

Much of Waimate's history can be viewed in the Historical Museum (formerly the Waimate Courthouse, 1879-1979). This extensive range of displays, machinery and outbuildings creates an understanding of the present Waimate through its past.


Waimate District holds the rare distinction of being one of the few places in New Zealand where wallabies have taken up residence. The wallabies (introduced from Australia) have flourished here and are the largest found in New Zealand. Known as 'Bennett's Wallabies', several were released onto the Hunters Hills in 1874 and, over the years, numbers have increased dramatically. These nocturnal marsupials have adapted well to the Waimate environment and can be found in wildlife parks throughout the district.

Facts & Figures

  • Waimate's region extends from south of the Pareora river in the north to Glenavy in the south and west into the Waitaki Valley. Population (2006 census) 7,206.
  • Strawberries have been grown in the Waimate district since early the 1880s; today the berry fruit industry remains an important industry in the town.
  • Waimate's unique landmark 'The White Horse' was erected in the 1960's. Built from concrete block it is a tribute to the Clydesdale Horse and its contribution to the prosperity of this region. The landmark is 60 feet high and can be accessed by walkway or drive.
  • Waimate has been home to some famous New Zealanders. Norman Kirk (Prime Minister of New Zealand , 1972-74) was born here and is buried in the town
  • The first New Zealand woman to go into general medical practice did so in Waimate. A statue of Dr Margaret Cruickshank stands in Seddon Square, one of only four statues to women in New Zealand.
  • The name of Waimate is derived from the name given to the area by its original inhabitants, the Maori. They called it 'Te Waimatemate', meaning slow moving water.