South Canterbury

5 of the Best Things to Do in Waimate, South Canterbury

Waimate is a small town in South Canterbury hidden from the main road. It’s a bit of a detour to reach, meaning only those who really want to visit will end up going there. Should that be you? Maybe this post will help you decide! We visited recently and reckon these are the best things to do in Waimate.

Walk the Historic Streets of Waimate

We’d driven past the turnoff to Waimate heaps of times before finally deciding to have a look (I’d been there once or twice for games of cricket when I was a kid). We were struck by how nice the town centre is – there are some picturesque old buildings, secondhand shops and a few good places to eat and drink.

We wandered the historic streets of Waimate for 30 minutes or so – I won’t post our route as there isn’t much chance of getting lost or missing the best bits – just park up in town and go for a stroll. Do seek out the Waimate Historical Museum though — it was closed when we were there but you could still look around the grounds, which features a few interesting old buildings.

See some Wallabies

Wallabies are like small kangaroos, and it comes as a surprise to many that there are wallabies running wild in Waimate. They were introduced in 1874 for their fur and are now considered a pest. They’re interesting to see though, and there are a few places where you might spot one. We saw some in an enclosure at the botanic gardens, but you may be lucky to see one in the wild.

We saw a couple of road-killed wallabies up at the viewpoint above town (never a nice sight) and there’s a place called Tame Wallabies EnkleDooVery Korna, which is basically like a wallaby petting zoo (we skipped it – let us know what it’s like if you’ve been).

Drive to the Whitehorse Monument

One of the best things to do in Waimate is to drive up to the Whitehorse Monument, where you’ll get an awesome view over the surrounding countryside. It’s a good drive, but you could also hike up there (why walk when you can drive though). There are plans to redevelop this place and it looks like it’ll improve a lot in the future. Note: Google Maps says this place is temporarily closed, but I can’t find any other mentions of it, so who really knows (let me know either way if you’ve been there recently).

See a Waterfall

There are a couple of waterfalls near Waimate, and we chose the one at Kelceys Bush. It’s a nice (but pretty small) waterfall and it’s a quick walk through the bush to get there (make sure to do the small detour to the viewpoint). There’s also a waterfall at Studholme Bush – we started to walk towards it but realised it was longer than we thought.

Go for a Hike

There are a few tracks to hike in Waimate, from the uphill slog to the Whitehorse Monument to shorter walks to waterfalls and bush areas. It’s all fairly low-key but enjoyable all the same. Let us know if you’ve done any of the hikes in Waimate, and whether you’d recommend them to our readers.

Other Things to Do in Waimate

We didn’t find much else of interest, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other fun things to do in Waimate. You could have a round of golf,  spend some time at the gardens, shop in the secondhand stores, visit the Wainono Lagoon (it doesn’t look all that interesting though) or talk to some farmers over a beer at one of the pubs.  It may not be the most exciting small town in New Zealand, but it definitely has its charms – have we convinced you to visit…?

Where is Waimate?

Waimate is about halfway between Timaru and Oamaru (a 35ish minute drive from both towns) but it does require a detour. You’ll see a big yellow barn thing with a “hop into Waimate” sign, so it’s pretty hard to miss. 

Are you planning a road-trip around New Zealand? Check out our two-week South Island itinerary!

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who has just returned home after 6 years abroad. Join me as I see as much of the South Island as I can.

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1 Comment

  1. Steve
    September 22, 2020 at 2:21 am

    Looks great, will visit