Waikouaiti sits on State Highway 1 thirty minutes north of Dunedin. To the east the Hawksbury Lagoon Wildlife Refuge provides an ideal habitat for birds, particularly wetland species. An easy walk around the lagoon leads to Waikouaiti Beach which stretches between two headlands, Cornish Head to the north where you can visit the oldest farm buildings in New Zealand at Matanaka Historic Farm, and to the south Huriawa Peninsula, a historic Maori pa site.
In the main street you’ll find good food and coffee, a boutique sized social history museum, and quirky shops selling modern and vintage homeware, women’s fashion clothing and jewellery.
Beano’s artisan bakery specialises in satisfying the appetites of truckies, miners from the nearby goldmine at Macraes, locals seeking their favourite variety of bread, and visitors looking for a hearty lunch on the road. The truckies’ favourite is the traditional mutton pie, while the biggest seller is steak and cheese. Steak and old dark beer, lamb and mint, butter chicken and the new breakfast pie which is an English breakfast in a pastry shell are all winners. For afters try one of the berry crumbles or that old favourite lolly cake. Espresso coffees are part of the service.
Huriawa Pa Walk
Spectacular Huriawa Peninsula at Karitane just south of Waikouaiti was the site of a historic fortified Maori pa. With the Waikouaiti River mouth on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, this was a perfect defensive position. In the 18th century chief Te Wera and his people withstood a six month siege here.
The peninsula is owned by Maori and the reserve is managed jointly by local Maori and the Dept of Conservation. Enter the reserve through the ornately carved archway and follow the paths around the peninsula for stunning views along the coast, down the cliffs and into the blowholes.
A whaling station was located here in the 1830s, and Kingscliff, the holiday house of Sir Truby King, Medical Superintendent of the nearby Seacliff Lunatic Asylum, but more famous for his theories on baby care and the establishment of the Plunket Society, can still be found overlooking the river mouth.
The Oddity Second Hand shop is a family business housed in an 1870s building complete with a tiny attic room. They like to sell things that aren’t mainstream, like old kitchenware, china, tins from past eras, collectibles and quirky playthings for children. Prepare to spend some time rummaging here.
Next door at The Green Room you’ll find contemporary handmade New Zealand homeware and jewellery including designer clothing and baby gifts.
The Bank of New Zealand chose a prime corner spot for their grand Waikouaiti office in 1869. Built during the Gold Rush the two storied limestone and cavity brick building also housed the bank manager and his family. Now registered with the Historic Places Trust as a category 1 building, since 1966 it’s housed the local museum.
With collections encompassing Maori artefacts, family history, WW1, maritime history, whaling, farming, Seacliff Hospital, Johnny Jones, photographs of people and places, maps, documents, and domestic utensils and furnishings, it gives a fascinating insight into the history of the Waikouaiti Coast and its people.
Waikouaiti Golf Course
If you’re looking for a friendly country golf course where the visitors include the occasional duck or black swan from the neighbouring Hawksbury Lagoon and the beach is a short walk away, then the Waikouaiti Golf Course in Edinburgh Street is the place for you.
It’s a 9 hole course with different tee offs for the second 9. Visitors are welcome to play anytime and they can join the Tuesday competition or the 12 hole match on a Friday. Ladies’ Day is a Tuesday and the men play on a Saturday. Green fees are $20.
Karitane identity Allan Anderson is the kind of Kiwi guy who’s happiest at the wheel of a boat. He and wife Rhonda own three of them - one for commercial fishing, a jet boat for short trips around the coast, plus a catamaran for charters and fishing trips to anywhere, but most often to Akaroa and Stewart Island. Then there are the sea kayaks for exploring the world’s largest sea cave network which is nearby, paddling into nooks and crannies with names like Noisy, Thunder and Pink Cathedral.
Allan’s lived in Karitane for most of his life and delights in showing visitors sea birds like albatross, plus seals, dolphins and the occasional whale. With an affable personality and decades of experience at sea he’s living his dream of giving people wonderful experiences while looking after the special coastal environment around Karitane.
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