|— Town —|
|• Regional council||Otago Regional Council|
|• Territorial authority||Dunedin City Council|
|Population (2006 census)|
|Time zone||NZST (UTC+12)|
|• Summer (DST)||NZDT (UTC+13)|
Today, Waikouaiti is a retail trade and servicing centre for the surrounding district, which has sheep farming as the principal primary activity. A major egg producer, Zeagold Foods, a branch of Mainland Poultry LTD has a 500,000-hen factory farming operation here and is in the process of expanding over the next year to meet demand for egg products. Hawksbury, 3 km southwest of Waikouaiti, has a cheese factory and shop, a swimming pool and housing developed from the old mental health institution, Cherry Farm. Karitane, 3 km to the southeast has a small fishing port.
An 1826 sketch of the east Otago coast, shows the headlands and beaches of what are now Karitane and Waikouaiti.
Waikouaiti was the first European settlement in southern New Zealand to be mainly based on farming and one of the first enduring European settlements in Otago. Johnny Jones sent settlers from Sydney, Australia in the Magnet to farm the district in 1840 eight years before the foundation of the Otago Association's settlement. Jones needed other people to help with the new settlement and he wrote to Dr. William Chapman to ask if he would become the GP for the district. From 1837 there had been a whaling station confusingly also called "Waikouaiti" nearby on the south side of the estuary at what is now called "Karitane". Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the area was occupied by Māori, who had a kaik, or unfortified settlement, at modern Karitane and a pa, or fortified settlement, on the adjacent Huriawa Peninsula.
- Johnny Jones
Jones' homestead and some of the associated buildings of his colonial manor farm dating from 1843, known as Matanaka Farm, still stand on Cornish Head. The farm buildings, though not the homestead, are owned by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and are open to the public. They are the oldest surviving farm buildings in New Zealand.
In Beach Street in Waikouaiti proper is the wooden shingle roofed St. John's Anglican Church. The cost of building was met by Johnny Jones and it was opened in 1858. It was designed by Benjamin Mountfort of Christchurch who also designed the Provincial Council Building there. The Presbyterians built a wooden church in 1863. It was moved to Kildare Street in 1876 and still remains. It became the Sunday School when a brick church was built in 1914, designed by J.Louis Salmond. This landmark building closed in 2008 and was demolished in 2009.
Place names 
The town of Waikouaiti was initially called "Hawksbury," a name that still applies to the Hawksbury Lagoon wetland in the centre of the town, known in Māori as Matainaka, and also adopted in the name of the residential/industrial redevelopment at the former Cherry Farm Hospital. The name Waikouaiti is Māori, and is believed to come from phrases meaning "small bitter waters" (wai-kawa-iti) or "braided streamlets" (wai-koua-iti). This placename once applied to a whaling station at Karitane, but subsequently drifted to the present location.
Waikouaiti is located on State Highway 1 40 kilometres north of Dunedin city centre and 666 kilometres from Picton. Highway operator Transit New Zealand recently completed a realignment from Waikouaiti to Flag Swamp in order to reduce the number of accidents that occurred on the Tumai railway overbridge just north of Waikouaiti. The new road includes a north-bound passing lane and opened in September 2007
The Main South Line railway between Christchurch and Invercargill passes through Waikouaiti. It was constructed in the 1870s, and daily passenger trains passed through Waikouaiti until the cancellation of the Southerner in February 2002. Currently, the only passenger service is a tourist service operated by the Taieri Gorge Railway. Named the Seasider, it operates between Dunedin and Palmerston, once or twice a week in the summer months and occasionally during winter.
Freight trains operate through Waikouaiti multiple times daily.
- Quickstats about Waikouaiti
- Otago coast map sketch - Thomas Shepherd (1779-1835), Original in the Mitchell Library, Sydney. Reproduced in Entwisle, 2005, illustration 17
- "Historic Places to Visit in Otago/Southland". Retrieved 26 April 2009.
- "Matanaka Farm". Register of Historic Places. New Zealand Historic Places Trust. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
- Place names on Kāti Huirapa Runaka ki Puketeraki website, viewed 2012-01-04
- 'Official opening of the Tumai deviation', p19, The Review September 2007, Palmerston, New Zealand.
- Entwisle, P (1998) Behold the Moon the European Occupation of the Dunedin District 1770-1848 Dunedin, NZ: Port Daniel Press ISBN 0-473-05591-0.
- Entwisle, P (2005) Taka a Vignette Life of William Tucker Dunedin, NZ: Port Daniel Press ISBN 0-473-10098-3.
- Knight, H & Coutts, P (1975) Matanaka Dunedin, NZ: John McIndoe.
- Media related to Waikouaiti at Wikimedia Commons