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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
CountryNew Zealand
IslandSouth Island
DistrictWaimate District
WardWaimate Ward
 • MayorCraig Rowley[1]
 • Local authorityWaimate District Council
 • Regional councilEnvironment Canterbury
 • Urban area8.01 km2 (3.09 sq mi)
 (June 2022)[3]
 • Urban area3,600
 • Density450/km2 (1,200/sq mi)
Area code03

Waimate is a town in Canterbury, New Zealand and the seat of Waimate District. It is situated just inland from the eastern coast of the South Island. The town is reached via a short detour west when travelling on State Highway One, the main North/South road. Waimate is 45.7 km south of Timaru, Canterbury's second city, 20 km north of the Waitaki River, which forms the border between Canterbury and the Otago province to the south and 47.5 km north of Oamaru, the main town of the Waitaki District.

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 the 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 breaking in the land in earlier days. Visitors to the monument's lookout are rewarded with 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.


Waimate is described as a small urban area by Statistics New Zealand and covers 8.01 km2 (3.09 sq mi).[2] It had an estimated population of 3,600 as of June 2022,[3] with a population density of 449 people per km2.

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: [4]

Waimate had a population of 3,456 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 171 people (5.2%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 168 people (5.1%) since the 2006 census. There were 1,602 households. There were 1,638 males and 1,815 females, giving a sex ratio of 0.9 males per female, with 474 people (13.7%) aged under 15 years, 465 (13.5%) aged 15 to 29, 1,374 (39.8%) aged 30 to 64, and 1,143 (33.1%) aged 65 or older.

Ethnicities were 94.4% European/Pākehā, 7.6% Māori, 0.8% Pacific peoples, 1.7% Asian, and 1.5% other ethnicities (totals add to more than 100% since people could identify with multiple ethnicities).

The proportion of people born overseas was 12.0%, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people objected to giving their religion, 49.0% had no religion, 37.8% were Christian, 0.3% were Buddhist and 2.6% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 243 (8.1%) people had a bachelor or higher degree, and 1,005 (33.7%) people had no formal qualifications. 213 people (7.1%) earned over $70,000 compared to 17.2% nationally. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 1,056 (35.4%) people were employed full-time, 405 (13.6%) were part-time, and 99 (3.3%) were unemployed.[4]

Individual statistical areas
Name Area (km2) Population Density (per km2) Households Median age Median income
Waimate North 4.46 507 114 237 56.5 years $22,900[5]
Waimate West 0.93 1,335 1,435 600 51.5 years $22,400[6]
Waimate East 2.60 1,614 621 765 55.2 years $22,500[7]
New Zealand 37.4 years $31,800

Nearby 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.


Further Information: List of schools in Canterbury, New Zealand#Waimate District

Waimate Main School and Waimate Centennial School are contributing primary schools for students in years 1 to 6,[8][9] with rolls of 104 and 127 students, respectively. Waimate Main opened in 1867 as Waimate Primary.[10] Waimate Centennial opened in 1955 and catered for years 1 to 8 until 1982, when it reduced to years 1 to 6.[11]

Waituna Creek School is a rural full primary about 6 kilometres northwest of Waimate. It caters for students in years 1 to 8[12] and has a roll of 28. It was established in 1879.[10]

St Patrick's School is a Catholic state-integrated full primary for years 1 to 8[13] with a roll of 17 students. The school website says it was first opened in the late 1880s, and the school celebrated 125 years of Catholic education in Waimate in 2005.[14][15] The New Zealand Tablet reported that St Patrick's School opened during 1881.[16]

Waimate High School is a secondary school for years 7 to 13[17] with a roll of 261 students. Waimate District High School opened in 1883. It became Waimate High on a new site in 1929, and in 1982 it expanded to also take year 7 and 8 students.[18][10]

Notable people from Waimate[edit]

Notable places[edit]

A statue of Zealandia, a female allegorical representation of New Zealand similar to Great Britain's Britannia, is located just off the main street. Only three Zealandia statues exist in the whole country, the one at Waimate, one at Palmerston in Otago, and another in Auckland. The Waimate and Palmerston statues were erected as Boer War memorials, and the one in Auckland to commemorate troops who fought against Māori in the New Zealand Wars.[22]

St Patrick's Basilica Catholic Church, located on Timaru Rd, was designed in 1908 by Francis Petre and is considered his most original design.[23] St. Augustine's Anglican Church, located on John Street in Waimate, designed in 1872 by Benjamin Mountfort.

Waihao marae, a marae (tribal meeting ground) of Ngāi Tahu and its Te Rūnanga o Waihao branch, is located in the Waimate district.[24] It includes Centennial Memorial Hall, a wharenui (traditional meeting house).[25]

Waimate Museum, located in Shearman St, was designed in 1878 by P.M.F. Burrows. Arcadia Theatre was originally built as Quinn's Arcade in 1906. Waimate White Horse is also located in the town.




  • Waimate Golf Club[27]


Movies and film[edit]

Sister cities[edit]


  1. ^ "Waimate picks Craig Rowley for mayor". 12 October 2013.
  2. ^ a b "ArcGIS Web Application". statsnz.maps.arcgis.com. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Subnational population estimates (RC, SA2), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996-2022 (2022 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2022. (regional councils); "Subnational population estimates (TA, SA2), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996-2022 (2022 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2022. (territorial authorities); "Subnational population estimates (urban rural), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996-2022 (2022 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2022. (urban areas)
  4. ^ a b "Statistical area 1 dataset for 2018 Census". Statistics New Zealand. March 2020. Waimate North (342500), Waimate West (342700) and Waimate East (342800).
  5. ^ 2018 Census place summary: Waimate North
  6. ^ 2018 Census place summary: Waimate West
  7. ^ 2018 Census place summary: Waimate East
  8. ^ Education Counts: Waimate Main School
  9. ^ Education Counts: Waimate Centennial School
  10. ^ a b c "South Canterbury Schools" (PDF). South Canterbury branch, New Zealand Society of Genealogists. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  11. ^ "Nau Mai Haere Mai! Welcome to Waimate Centennial!". Waimate Centennial School. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  12. ^ Education Counts: Waituna Creek School
  13. ^ Education Counts: St Patrick's School
  14. ^ "About Us". St Patrick's School. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  15. ^ Foley, John (2005). 125 years of Catholic education in Waimate, 1880–2005 history of St. Patrick's School. St Patrick's School.
  16. ^ "St. Patrick's School Waimate". New Zealand Tablet. 20 January 1882.
  17. ^ Education Counts: Waimate High School
  18. ^ "Waimate High School Charter" (PDF). Waimate High School. 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  19. ^ "CRUIKSHANKS, Margaret Barnet".
  20. ^ Scholefield, Guy (1951). Who's Who in New Zealand, 1951 (5th ed.). Wellington: A.H. & A.W. Reed. p. 195.
  21. ^ "Manchester, Sir William Maxwell (1913–2001)". Royal College of Surgeons. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  22. ^ "New Zealand Wars memorial statue defaced by anti-colonial activists". stuff. 11 January 2018.
  23. ^ "The Churches of Waimate, South Canterbury". 4 March 2015. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  24. ^ "Te Kāhui Māngai directory". tkm.govt.nz. Te Puni Kōkiri.
  25. ^ "Māori Maps". maorimaps.com. Te Potiki National Trust.
  26. ^ "Sportsground.com – Home". www.sportsground.co.nz. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  27. ^ http://www.waimategolf.co.nz/[dead link]
  28. ^ The Waimate Conspiracy at IMDb

External links[edit]