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This article is about the town in the South Island, New Zealand. For the district, see Waimate District. For the Waimate Mission Station in the North Island, see Te Waimate mission.
Waimate is located in New Zealand
Coordinates: 44°44′02″S 171°02′47″E / 44.7340°S 171.0465°E / -44.7340; 171.0465Coordinates: 44°44′02″S 171°02′47″E / 44.7340°S 171.0465°E / -44.7340; 171.0465
Country New Zealand
Island South Island
District Waimate District
Regional Council Canterbury Regional Council
 • Mayor Craig Rowley[1]
Population (2006 census)
 • Urban area 2,835
Website www.waimatedc.govt.nz/Waimate/

Waimate is the principal town of the Waimate District. It services a large rural catchment in the southern part of South Canterbury, which itself, is part of the greater Canterbury province in the South Island of New Zealand. Waimate is situated just inland from the East Coast about 2/3 of the way down the Island. It is discovered via a short detour west when travelling on State Highway One, the main North/South road. Waimate is 45.7 km south of Timaru, the main port city in South Canterbury and 20 km north of the Waitaki River, which forms the border between Canterbury and the Otago province to the south.

The population of the Waimate District was recorded in the 2006 census as 7,206 people. The district's area of 3,582.19 square kilometres forms the southern section of the agriculturally rich Canterbury Plains.

Waimate is well known for its population of Bennett's wallabies. These marsupials were introduced from Australia and now live wild in the countryside surrounding the town. It is also recognised for it's White Horse Monument which is a silhouette of a white horse that can be seen on the hills behind the town. It commemorates the Clydesdale horses that helped in a major part when breaking in the land in the earlier days. Visitors to the monument's lookout are rewarded with beautiful panoramic views of the town and the district's green plains out towards the pacific ocean.


From 1877 until 1966, Waimate was served by the Waimate Branch, a branch line railway that connected with the Main South Line some seven kilometres east in Studholme. For roughly seventy years ending in 1953, the line ran beyond Waimate to Waihao Downs. When the branch line was closed on 31 March 1966, Waimate became the first major town in New Zealand to lose its railway connection.


The Waimate District is bounded by the Waitaki River in the south, the Pareora River in the north and the Hakataramea Valley to the west. The district is a very productive agricultural area with a mix of pastoral, cropping, dairy farming, fruit and vegetable growing.

The Waihao River, which starts in the Hunter Hills catchment area runs eastwards on the southern side of the Waimate township joining with the Waimate Creek. They both eventually end up discharging very close to the sea into the Wainono Dead Arm, which then flows into the Wainono Lagoon near Studholme.

Rural communities[edit]

Panorama of the view from the White Horse overlooking Waimate township.


Like much of rural New Zealand, Waimate suffered from an economic downturn in the 1980s, with the closure of the dairy factory and a number of sawmills. For the last decade of the 20th century the biggest employers in the district were two furniture manufacturers, a vegetable processing plant and a factory making French fries and other potato products at Makikihi. All but the latter closed within the first few years of the 21st century. However, a newly developed large scale sawmill and the development of a large milk powder factory, coupled with the wealth of dairy farms and the nationwide real estate bubble of 2003-2007, saw a renewed confidence in Waimate.

Photo of a sunset over the hills to the south of Waimate, taken from near the town centre.


Just off the main street is a statue of Zealandia a female allegorical representation of New Zealand in much the same way as Britannia represents Great Britain. Only two Zealandia statues exist in the whole country; the other is at Palmerston, Otago. Both were erected as Boer War memorials.


Further Information: List of schools in Canterbury, New Zealand

  • Pre-schools
    • Waimate Free Kindergarten
    • Waimate Childcare Centre
    • Waimate Playcentre
  • Primary Schools
    • Waimate Main School
    • Glenavy School
    • Morven School
    • Makikihi School[2]
    • St Patrick's School (Waimate, NZ)|St Patrick's School
    • Waihaorunga School
    • Waihao Downs School
    • Waimate Centennial School
    • Waituna Creek School
    • St Andrews School (Waimate, NZ)|St Andrews School
  • Secondary Schools
    • Waimate High School[3]

Notable people from Waimate[edit]

Notable places[edit]

  • St. Augustine's Anglican Church, located on John Street in Waimate, was designed in 1872 by Benjamin Mountfort.
  • St Patrick's Basilica (Catholic), located on Timaru Rd was designed in 1908 by Francis Petre and is considered his most original design.[5]
  • Waimate Museum, located in Shearman St, was designed in 1878 by P.M.F. Burrows
  • Waimate White Horse




  • Waimate Golf Club[7]


Movies and film[edit]

Sister cities[edit]


External links[edit]