What to Do in Waimate: The South Island’s Historical Hopping Town!
It’s hard to not be intrigued by this town signed off State Highway 1 by a bright yellow farm building with a wallaby on it. Waimate itself is a gorgeous rural town at the foot of the Hunter Hills in the South Canterbury region. The streets are wide and decorated in Edwardian buildings, while the district has many weird and wonderful points of interest. See a giant white horse overlooking the town on a nearby hill or look out for wild wallabies along the walking trails. Waimate is one of the rare places in New Zealand where wallabies flourish. Find out what you can do and see in this town with this list of things to do in Waimate.
1. Walk the Waimate Whitehorse Walkway
See Waimate’s iconic white horse on the hill along the Waimate Whitehorse Walkway. This 1h30min return track traverses the top of the Whitehorse hill featuring magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean, Waimate town and the surrounding mountains.
Location: Point Bush Road
2. Hit the Mountain Bike Trails
Keen mountain bikers will have a blast along the trails of the Waimate area. There’s the Pentland Traverse (60km loop), Meyers Pass (40km loop), Kinbrace Trail (80km one-way) and The Whitehorse Trail (6.2km one-way) – just to name a few.
Location: All around Waimate
3. Visit the Waimate Historical Museum
Set inside the magnificent former Waimate courthouse built in 1879, the Waimate Historical Museum is a must-visit for any curious traveller (or if you want to escape the rain). Check out displays on local history, including Maori heritage and mock-up of an early school. The museum is surrounded by picturesque gardens making for a great photo opportunity. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday.
Location: 28 Shearman Street
4. See Wild and Tame Wallabies
So where can you see Waimate’s wallabies? There are wallabies in an enclosure at Victoria Park and tame wallabies at EnkleDooVery Korna where you can meet and feed the animal park’s wallabies. Alternatively, you are likely to spot them in the wild along the town’s nearby walking trails.
Location: Victoria Park – 22 Naylor Street, EnkleDooVery – Bathgates Road and along Waimate’s walking trails.
5. Check Out Bushtown Waimate Heritage Park
Find out about the lives of early settlers, otherwise known as bushmen, and their families and why they were drawn here to the forests of Waimate. The Bushtown Waimate Heritage Park gives intriguing insights into the town’s sawmilling industry and what life was like in the late 1800s. Bushtown has selected open days.
Location: Dobson Street
6. Hit the Waimate Market
Experience a real Kiwi farmers’ market at the Waimate Market happening every Saturday 9am-12pm. Mingle with the locals and pick up seasonal fruit and vegetables, pick up unique souvenirs from the arts and craft stalls and enjoy street food and drinks from the vendors.
Location: Council car park
7. Sample Real Country Kiwi Cuisine
Speaking of food, there are some fantastic eateries in Waimate really reflecting the country lifestyle. Pop into Country Kitchen for delicious home baking, coffee, and morning or afternoon tea. Enjoy the farmyard theme of The Naked Chip and their “Woolshed Baa” serving wine, beer, spirits and cocktails along with finger food. Finally, Butlers Berry Farm & Cafe has a great cafe with berry-inspired food to enjoy after picking your own berries on the farm. Don’t know what to try? See our 15 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand.
Location: Country Kitchen – 73 Queen Street, The Naked Chip – 45 Shearman Street, and Butlers Berry Farm – State Highway 1, 11km north of Waimate
8. Play Golf
Enjoy an undulating course with treelined fairways at the Waimate Golf Club. The 18-hole par-72 course features mountain views and beautifully maintained greens. The golf club is open for visitors for an affordable fee. See more places to play golf in 21 Best Golf Courses in New Zealand.
Location: Browns Road
9. Check Out Waimate’s Historical Buildings
You’ll notice some grand buildings throughout the town holding onto the heritage of this historic town. Take a look at The Cuddy, a home originally built in 1854 or the Arcadia Theatre constructed in 1906 and was the first shopping mall in Australasia. Another point of interest is the Dr Margaret Cruickshank MD memorial to the first woman in New Zealand to go into general practice and who established the first private hospital in Waimate.
Location: The Cuddy – Te Waimate, Arcadia Theatre – High Street, and Dr Cruickshank memorial – Seddon Square.
10. Check Out the Parks
There are three fantastic parks and reserves in Waimate that are well worth exploring. See the important wildlife habitat of the Lake Wainono Wetland Conservation Area. It represents about 20.25% of the remaining 25% of unmodified wetlands in South Canterbury. Victoria Park offers far more than your average town park with an aviary and animal enclosure, as well as beautiful flower beds and shrubs. Finally, Knottingley Park is an arboretum which is best seen in spring for all the daffodils. You can also camp here too.
Location: Lake Wainono – Hannaton Road,Victoria Park –22 Naylor Street and Knottingley Park – Waihao Back Road.
More Things to Do Near Waimate
- 6 Essential Pitstops for Your South Canterbury Road Trip
- 10 Underrated Places to Visit in Canterbury
- 5 Fun Things to Do at Pleasant Point
That’s it for the best things to do in Waimate. Find more activities for your travels in the 51 Best Things to Do in the South Island.